Astrology and the Skeptics: An Open Letter to Dr. Rebekah Higgitt

Royal Observatory, Greenwich, UK

Royal Observatory, Greenwich, UK

(Astrology Explored)

Dr. Rebekah Higgitt,
Curator of History of Science and Technology
National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory
Greenwich, UK

Dear Dr. Higgitt,

Recently in an BBC television show, two scientists proclaimed that “astrology was rubbish” prompting an article by you, asking whether “we should debunk astrologers more respectfully”. I am fascinated by your assertion that “Astrology as a scientific hypothesis has been put to the test and found wanting”.

There are many semantic holes in this assertion that only serves to muddy the waters.

Astrology is not a “scientific hypothesis.” It is a practice, much like the practice of medicine, so straight off the bat we are in trouble.

Maybe what you mean to say is “that the principles of astrology, when held to the light of scientific inquiry fails to yield reproducible results”.

Is that what you mean Dr. Higgitt?

Because if it is, then we run into problems again and that is there are studies that do yield reproducible results.

The most famous of these is the “Mars Effect” in which prominent athletes show a higher frequency of of Mars placed in certain sectors of their chart than statistical average.

For those unfamiliar with the astrological definition of Mars, the red planet in astrology relates to aggressiveness and competition.

Despite the fact that certain of those in the skeptic community claim to have disproved the effect, it was found that those involved with this inquiry disallowed some of Gauguelin’s data and introduced other data with a result that was more favorable to their position.

Gauquelin found that people of certain professions tend to have the same planets in these critical segments with a greater frequency than statistical average. Not only that, but he also found an effect which he titled the “theory of eminence” which holds that not only do people established in their chosen fields have a greater than statistical chance average of having those planets in these important fields. The more eminent a person is in their field, the greater the likelihood that those planets will be found in those critical segments. For example, doctors were found to have the planet of Saturn in these critical segments. If you take an average, general practice physician, the chances of he or she having Saturn in that critical position is much less than the chart of a highly prominent physician, one who is frequently published and renowned in their field. In other words, the more prominent you are in your field, the greater the chances you will have the corresponding planet in the critical field of the wheel.

Although scientists find Gauquilin’s findings very disquieting, increasingly sophisticated analysis seems to confirm, rather than disconfirm, certain of the original results. For example, in a 1986 study, the German researcher, Suitbert Ertel, reported: “A reanalysis of Gauquelin professional data using alternative procedures of statistical treatment supports previous Gauquelin results. Frequency deviations from chance expectancy along the scale of planetary sectors differ markedly between professions.” Read more about it at the William James Roots of Consciousness website.

Of course one study does not “prove” the validity of the whole of astrology, but it is far from “found wanting”. So lets look at others.

Carl Jung studied the charts of 453 couples and found that of the happily married couples with the classic aspects, (connections between planets) that indicate the opportunity for a satisfying relationship occurred three times more often than the rate of coincidence.

Jung said of this:

The chances of this actually happening are extremely improbable. Even in the first two cases, the probability works out at 1:100 x 10,000, which means that such a coincidence is to be expected only in one case out of ten million. It is improbable that it would ever happen in anyone’s experience. Yet in my statistical experiment it happened that precisely the three conjunctions stressed by astrological tradition came together in the most improbable way

And then there is this:

On December 6, 2010 Science Daily reports on a study published in the journal Natural Neuroscience that “The season in which babies are born can have a dramatic and persistent effect on how their biological clocks function.”

The experiment provides the first evidence for seasonal imprinting of biological clocks in mammals and was conducted by Professor of Biological Sciences Douglas McMahon, graduate student Chris Ciarleglio, post-doctoral fellow Karen Gamble and two undergraduate students at Vanderbilt University.

While not a study on astrology itself, it comes dangerously close to suggesting that the tropical zodiac, the zodiac based on the position of the Sun as it travels thru the seasons, actually has something behind it.

I could go on, but we don’t have all day here, so let’s move along.

Let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute and look at tests that purport to dispute the validity of astrology.

One such study found online is the NCGR/Berkeley Double-Blind Test of Astrology undertaken by Shawn Carlson and published in 1985. Shawn Carlson concluded that “we are now in a position to argue a surprisingly strong case against natal astrology as practised by reputable astrologers”.

The experiment was designed to test the astrological proposition that:
“the positions of the ‘planets’ (all planets, the Sun and Moon, plus other objects defined by astrologers) at the moment of birth can be used to determine the subject’s general personality traits and tendencies in temperament and behavior, and to indicate the major issues which the subject is likely to encounter”.

In this test volunteers took the California Personality Inventory, was given three horoscope delineations, with only one of which was the written for them, and asked to choose the one that fits their personality, as well as choosing a second choice. Of 83 subjects only 28 chose the horoscope written for them, which was on par with chance.
But wait! To check the subjects ability to self evaluate their personality types the subjects were given three CPI evaluations and asked to pick out their own. In a subject sample even smaller than the first, the subjects did not choose their own personality profile in numbers that were not statistically significant. Calling this result “disappointing” Carlson writes “”if subjects cannot recognise accurate descriptions of themselves at a significant level then the experiment would show a null result however well astrology worked”

Carlson then moves on to the astrologers and ask them to choose the correct CPI out of three to the natal chart of each subject. The astrologers faired no better than chance when the astrologers themselves predicted they could match 50% of the profiles. From this Carlson arrived at the conclusion that astrology failed. But here again is there is a fly in the ointment.

Though Carlson claimed that natal astrology performed no better than chance, a number of authoritative sources including Professor Hans Eysenck of London University (1986) [6]have shown that this conclusion was faulty. Recent evidence now shows that the part of the test that was valid (according to Carlson) shows evidence that favours astrology to a statistically significant level in spite of many disadvantages that the astrologers faced.

And remarkably, Dr. Carlson is not a psychiatrist or psychologist but a mathematician and physicist so he shouldn’t have gotten the numbers wrong. But the study itself was funded by the skeptics group CSICOPS, and for that group, no other conclusion but to declare astrology invalid, is possible.

All people are entitled to their opinions, and if some people prefer to think that astrology is rubbish, scientist or no, that is their right. However, as an astrology blogger friend said “The general opinion of people doesn’t make for good evidence.” To veil opinion with the mantle of scientific certainty is not only self-serving it is just wrong.

So Dr. Higgitt, despite your very nice attempt to debunk us astrologers respectfully, we respectfully submit that we are not in need of debunking. But thanks for the thought.

Image published under a Creative Commons License from Flickr.

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The Astrology of Transits: The Problem with Mars In Aquarius

Mr. Spock, double exposure(Astrology Explored)

Oh, it’s you.

Didn’t I make it clear last year that I wanted nothing to do with you?

Now here you are crossing over the doorway of my tenth house opposing my Uranus, getting ready to conjunct my Chiron and my Sun.

How dare you.

I don’t care about how cute you supposedly look like with those “Mr. Spock” ears. Nothing you do is “fascinating” to me.

No, I do not want to join a nice gym with you. You have me running around way to much for me to have energy to do anything else.

Look, haven’t you caused enough trouble with my electronics and my appliances? Wasn’t it bad enough that you blew up my oven and I had to spend $80 to purchase a new stove element? Or that the power cord on my computer started to smoke and blew out the connection to the power source? Now I have to replace that too.

And I do not appreciate how you’ve gotten my boss riled up. Trouble like that I don’t need.

I don’t know why you are laughing. I don’t find this amusing at all.

I really couldn’t care less if you think I don’t have a sense of humor. My Mercury is in Capricorn and my sense of humor is a little too dry for you to get anyway.

Am I implying you are stupid? No, but apparently right now you are a little too “out there” to get the message. Why don’t you leave before I call the cops?

Don’t make me get a restraining order on you. You know I will.

Image published under a Creative Commons License as represented by Flickr.

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Astrology and Celebrity: A Pluto Moment for Keith Olbermann

(Astrology Explored)

Keith Olbermann was MSNBC’s most popular personality and single-handedly led its transformation to an outspoken, left-leaning cable news network in prime time. Despite that, he often seemed to be walking on a tightrope with his job. Friday night, it snapped.

“A lot of people are trying to figure out if this was truly voluntary or not,” said Adam Green, co-founder of, which collected thousands of petition signatures urging Olbermann’s reinstatement following last fall’s suspension.

Olbermann’s outspoken and leftist’s learnings tended to run to extremes, sparking a long running feud with Bill O’Reilly, host of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel. He often attacked the younger Bush’s administration, calling him on one occasion a fascist. His partisan take of the political scene lead to a temporary removal from MSNBC’s election coverage in 2008. Notheless, his popular show was a hit and In November 2008, it was announced that Olbermann had signed a four-year contract extension worth an estimated $30 million.

Olbermann ran into trouble and garnered a suspension as Wikipedia tells us:

“indefinitely without pay for violating a network policy which required employees to obtain approval from management before making political contributions.An online petition calling for his reinstatement received over 250,000 signatures; two days after the suspension began, Griffin announced that Olbermann would return to the air on November 9 . . ”

Now three years into his four year contract, Olbermann is out and many people are scratching their heads. What caused Olbermann’s sudden break from the show? What can astrology tell us?

Keith Olbermann was born January 27, 1959 in New York City. We do not have a birth time, so we can not comment on his ascendant, house positions or moon sign except for the fact that the moon is most likely in the zodiac sign of analytical, orderly and precise Virgo. His Sun, his core identity, Chiron, the planet of deep wounds, and Venus, his value system are in the humanistic zodiac sign of Aquarius. Aquarius is noted for their their out of the box thinking and their stubborn adherence to their own opinions. Indeed, an Aquarian, in the heat of verbal battle will argue their positions even when they know they are wrong! Chiron in the zodiac sign of the Waterbearer lends a visionary wisdom to whatever charge the Aquarian leads. Often, this type of Aquarian will “take hits for the team” to advance their agenda. Venus there lends a deep conviction to right wrongs and advocate for the underdog. Not that all of this makes him an easy person to interact with. Despite the gregariousness and social adroitness that an Aquarian can display in a group setting, one on one interactions can be tense when the Aquarian stubbornly clings to opinions and ways of doing things that ruffles feathers.

Add to this a Mars, the planet of survival instincts in the equally stubborn sign of Taurus and opposite the planet of abundance Jupiter, and much like the archetype of a bull you have a man that when roused, will run right over you.

Even with all these conflicting energies, the appeal of a personality like this is staying power. Olbermann is graced with the ability to stay with difficult situations long after other people would quit. This makes him valuable in that even in the rapidly changing and tension packed atmosphere of a television newsroom, Olbermann can keep to his game and do the work consistently and reliably. So it is a surprise that Olbermann and his employers part company, quickly, tersely and without comment. Until you look at the transits.

The transits, the planets in the sky as they are now, form some interesting interactions with Olbermann’s horoscope chart. At the time of Olbermann’s abrupt departure, the Moon, the planet of public opinion, formed the apex of a Yod, called the finger of God. Events that associated with a Yod often have a fated or destiny aspect attached to them. The Sun and Mars in the zodiac sign of Aquarius and Uranus, the planet of the unexpected Uranus and the planet of abundance, Jupiter in the mystical sign of Pisces, form the base of the Yod. What is so interesting about this Yod was that at the time of Olbermann’s termination was pointed directly at his Pluto.

Pluto is the planet of transformation. When Pluto is in action, it strips you of everything you have. What happens with Pluto is not voluntary. Transiting Mars sitting along side (conjunct) his Sun causes trouble. But Mars in concert with Pluto often brings drastic, life altering changes and not of your own making. It is fair to say that Olbermann was wrested from his position and by force by the powers that be.

But don’t start signing any petitions yet. Fortunately for Olbermann, despite his Pluto moment, the planet of abundance is kicking into the sign of Aries bringing new opportunities for Olbermann. He will land on his feet just fine, and most likely, in a better position than he was before.

Horoscope/Astrology Chart Olbermann Termination

Photo published under a Creative Commons License as described by Wikipedia.

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Astrology 101: Why Astrologers Aren’t Concerned About a 13th Sign



(Astrology Explored) Astrologers watched in bemusement and surprise that the internet literally blew up over a astronomer and community college professor Parke Kunkle’s pronouncement that “the earth had shifted” resulting in the magical creation of 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus, otherwise known as “the snake handler”. In fact, according to the SU Spectator reports that an unprecedented 17 out of 20 search queries were zodiac related. Astrologers were besieged with questions about Ophiuchus in every setting from television interviews to this astrologer’s experience, a funeral.

It is reported that about a quarter of the U. S. population “believes” in astrology and many more read their daily horoscope for hah hahs everyday. Clearly there is something to this astrology thing if it engages so many people. Yet what you see in the newspapers is just a tiny portion of what astrology is all about.

If you were to see an astrologer, what he or she does is take three pieces of information: your birth date, your birth time and your birthplace. Using either a computer or good old fashioned math and a three reference works, the astrologer will draw a map of heavens at the time of your birth. In a very real sense this map, called a natal chart, shows the Universe as it revolves around you. Every single planet in our solar system and a few mathematical points talk about your personality and how you act and react in the world. Some important points are:

Your ascendant—A mathematical point, the ascendant is the zodiac sign at the time on the horizon at the time of your birth. It governs your physical appearance and the first impression you give other people. The degree of the ascendant changes roughly every four minutes. You can be a Taurus and have Scorpio on the ascendant, or a Taurus with Leo on the ascendant, still be a Taurus, but be perceived by other people in vastly different ways.

Your Sun—What many people know as their “sign” the Sun is central player in the astrological chart. It is your core identity from which you draw many essential personality traits.

Your Moon—The moon moves swiftly through the zodiac signs each month spending roughly two and a half days in each sign. The moon represents your emotional center, your security needs, your early nurturing experience and how you feel about things. A Taurus with Scorpio on the ascendant and a Pisces Moon has a far different view of the world than a Taurus with a Leo ascendant and their moon in Aquarius.

These three elements, the ascendant, the Sun and the Moon, are the Big Three in the map of the heavens at the time of your birth charting your basic identity by not only the zodiac signs each of these points occupy but by their relationship to each other. These relationships are called aspects and range from easy connections to challenging. It is why you may feel one thing about something and act another way. And here is the kicker about aspects—they represent a significant portion of how you operate in the world. Sometime the aspects that planets make to each other nearly outweigh the zodiac sign in which the planets are placed.

But wait—there’s more!

Each of the other planets in the solar system has something to say about you as well. Mercury talks about your thinking processes, Mars represents your survival instincts and your sexual drive, Venus, your value systems, Saturn, your duties and responsibilities, Jupiter, your sense of social justice, Uranus, your unique gift to the world, Neptune, your spirituality and Pluto, what you need to transform in your life.

Is your head spinning yet?

We haven’t even talked about the houses, the two hour divisions of the twenty-four hour day that govern different portions of life on earth. Which house each of the planets tenant flavor the interpretation of that planet.

And then—

There is plethora of astrological techniques, types of charts and a slew of other things that add depth and meaning to an astrological reading, as if we needed more. But we do, because you come to us with questions about all parts of your life, from whether or not a relationship will work, whether you’ll get that new job, when you will have babies, and anything else that life throws at you.

Astrology is a complex study that few attempt and even fewer master. Maybe this is why so few people know that zodiac signs you know and love so well are based on the seasons and not the constellations. So yes, we do understand, in a certain way, the appeal a simple Sun sign horoscope has for most people. But you are more to you than just your Sun sign which is why astrologers aren’t really concerned about a 13th zodiac sign.

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Astrology and Astronomy: The Starry Reasons Ophiuchus Raises His Head

Glyph of Ophiuchus

Glyph of Ophiuchus

(Astrology Explored) Of all the things that seem strange in this world, one of the strangest is this.

Why would a statement about commonly known astronomical phenomena, by a Community College professor, no less, cause a worldwide stir?

Astronomer Parke Kunkle’s assertion that a new zodiac sign should be added to the 12 constellations that we know as the zodiac has caused quite a bit of consternation and confusion among enthusiasts of astrology who took this bit of information to mean that that the zodiac had actually changed causing a new sign added to the pantheon of zodiac signs. This consternation has been fueled by the media, which ran with this story like the jockey who rode Secretariat.

Professor Kunkle professes surprise at the media attention and demurs this in an interview with Charlie Jane Anders in which Anders reports:

“And no, Parke Kunkle didn’t tell the Star-Tribune that the zodiac ought to include 13 signs instead of 12 — especially since he doesn’t believe in astrology at all. (He highly recommends Phil Plait’s page about astrology.) He did mention that astronomers tend to reckon the sun’s position with 13 constellations instead of 12, and Ophiuchus is the 13th.”

But make no mistake, in the in Minnesota Planetarium Society Facebook page Kunkle’s statement mentions horoscopes specifically and the dates of the “New Zodiac” and affirms this in a comment with:

“This is factual. The sun being “in” a constellation is accurately described by this chart and no one would dispute the fact. Whether this poses any issue for the purported relation between the position of planets – and the sun – and human personalities or fates, is strictly in the domain of non-science.”

For astronomers and astrologers alike this an old story, a 2,000 year old story, in fact. It is so old in fact, that the Ophiuchus debate was settled that long ago.

Astrologer Jack Fertig responded to this as a comment on the Minnesota Planetarium Facebook page:

“Astrologers have answered this one so many times we can only suspect that the astronomers who repeat this canard are being intellectually dishonest.”

So the question remains, why Parke Kunkle out the ranks of everyday and world-class astronomers alike and why now?

Sleuthing Professor Kunkle’s birth data is no easy task. Up to now he wasn’t a public figure. To get even a smidgeon of data this astrologer did what she rarely does; take the information from a paid public database.

The date retrieved was March 8, 1946. Since it is not from a birth certificate and not from the person or family members, this information is rated on the Rodden scale as DD (dirty data). (Anyone who can confirm or deny this date or give additional details please leave a comment.)

Of course this leaves us without a birth time and a birthplace. This means that for the purposes of interpretation we have to ignore house placements, the ascendant and the moon. What we are left with are the planets except for the moon, and the aspects between them.

Parke Kunkle has his Sun in the dreamy sign of Pisces conjunct Venus. This is a potent combination. Pisces has a rich reputation, straddling as it does the depths of both heaven and hell. It can either be a sinner, saint or both, and because of Pisces chameleon like demeanor we may not know which until it is too late. What we love about Pisces is their infinite compassion for the human condition and their willingness to help even on hopeless causes. It is known that Pisces are suckers for a sob story, even their own. What frustrates us with Pisces is that their sense of reality is often quite stretched, not matching that of other people in their immediate world. With the planet of beauty and love sitting along side his Sun, people like him. He is charming, caring and in general a helpful guy. His Mercury though is in fleet footed Aries, which gives him a tendency to be the victim of what I call tongue-in-cheek of foot-in-mouth disease. Aries likes a good argument, just to get the juices flowing. Unfortunately for Professor Kunkle, his Sun, Venus, and Mercury combination is in stress aspect to his natal Jupiter, Chiron, and Neptune. This isn’t the first time Professor Kunkle has said a few things that are a little out there, and won’t be the last. Unfortunately, Saturn the planet of duty, responsibility and limitations sits on this last combination. Saturn here maybe making him look like an authority on the subject, but ultimately brings a few slings and arrows all on its own.

The only aspect one can find that might be related to fame is the progressed moon transiting Kunkle’s natal Neptune. Neptune in some fashion is often prominent in the charts of public figures since it lends charisma and magnetism. However, as Carol Rushman says, “ Neptune is also the plant of illusion, delusion, elusion and confusion . . . You see life through a veil, not as it is . . .”

But as it turns out, this isn’t about Professor Kunkle at all. It just so happens that transiting Mercury in the last decan of Sagittarius is crossing over the fixed star Ras Alhague, which is the head of Ophiuchus at 23° Sagittarius. Transiting Jupiter, the planet that pushes things over the top, transiting Uranus the planet of the unexpected makes a challenge aspect to transiting Mercury, illustrating the misinformation that spread rapidly. Where Professor Kunkle comes in is that his South Node, the planet of the past and Karma, and his Sun, Venus and Mercury combination is caught up in the transiting positions making him a channel for the voice of long denied Ophiuchus.
Horoscope Chart Professor Kunkle and Zodiac Interview

Astrology and Astronomy: The Ophiuchus Debate

Kepler's Rendition of Ophiuchus

Kepler's Rendition of Ophiucus

(Astrology Explored) Why you don’t add every Tom, Dick and Ophiuchus to your Zodiac Wheel

Astronomer Parke Kunkle has discovered there are other constellations in the sky besides the twelve we are familiar with. He is so impressed with his discovery that he wants to add a new zodiac sign to the pantheon, Ophiuchus, the snake handler. He has gotten a lot of people riled up wondering what is their zodiac sign. Talk about identity crisis! This is his reasoning:

“The Earth spins and, like a toy top, the spin axis moves around, pointing in different directions. Today, Earth’s spin axis points toward the pole star, Polaris. Around 3000 BC Earth’s spin axis pointed toward Thuban. Wait 26,000 years and the north star will again be Thuban. Astronomers call this motion of the spin axis precession. About 130 BC, Hipparchus noticed that the Earth’s spin axis had changed directions, so astronomers and astrologers have known about the Earth’s precession for over 2000 years. 

“But this means that if the sun was “in” a certain constellation on a particular date, it is in a different constellation on that date today. For example, the sun was in Pisces on March 1, 2000 BC but it is in Aquarius on March 1, 2011 AD.”

Not so fast, Professor Kunkle

When the original zodiac was named the first day of spring, the vernal equinox aligned with the Sun’s entrance into the constellation of Aries. Of course the ancients were well aware that there were many more constellations in the sky than twelve, but what makes these twelve constellations so special was that the sun appeared to be traveling through them. This was a powerful observation as the apparent path of the sun moved a smidgeon less than one degree each day almost matching the 360 degrees we mark in a circle. In a year then the Sun appeared to travel through twelve constellations to come back to the first day of spring. This was how the zodiac wheel we know so well was defined. Everything appeared to mesh, a Universe that ran in synch with the movement of our sun.

But the Earth is a bad actor

We all know what happens when a top spins. Eventually as it slows, it wobbles. Well, the earth wobbles too, and the result of this wobbling is that, as Professor Kunkle points out where the Earth axis point to true north has changed. But unfortunately for Professor Kunkle the whole debate about how astrologers define the zodiac was decided two millennia ago, when ancient astrologers realized the constellations in the sky didn’t align with the first day of spring. What made more sense to the astrologers of the day, in a civilization powered by the planting and harvesting of crops was to keep the year in as divided by the equinoxes. Each 30 degree slice of the movement of the sun retained the names of the zodiac sign for which they were originally named. This is what we call the tropical zodiac. And despite the fact that the tropical zodiac does not align with the constellations of today, the characteristics of we associate with those zodiac signs hold true today, suggesting that it is the movement of the sun, not the constellations themselves that give each of the zodiac signs their special joie de vivre.

Now some of you with a more detailed understanding of astrology and/or astronomy are asking, “Yes, but Vedic astrologers use the sidereal zodiac. Wouldn’t Kunkle’s argument affect them?” Well, no, boys and girls, because Kunkle’s argument has another flaw and that has to do where Ophiuchus is placed in the heavens.

So where does this Ophiuchus character come in?

Ophiuchus as a constellation is said to be between Sagittarius and Scorpio. However, take a look at this star map as rendered by Nasa. You will note that the traditional zodiac signs have the main body of their stars at or very near the plane the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun. However, even today, with all the earth’s wobbling, our buddy, Ophi, by comparison has the bulk of his stars set off quite a bit from the plane of the ecliptic. Granted a few of his snaky parts cross over the line, but close enough is only good in the game of horseshoes. Sadly our pal Ophi is rather like the Harry Potter character Nearly Headless Nick who is excluded from the yearly Headless Hunt because his head is not totally detached. But who knows, even among astrologers this debate exists, though as it stands we aren’t looking to change any astrology textbooks any time soon.

Of Course

Professor Kunkle knows all this. I rather suspect that he is taking pot shots at astrologers, who most astronomers despise because we are not “scientific”. In fact he is quoted as saying:

”In science we deal with a long tradition of fact based investigation. We are not in the business of interpreting the purported relation between the positions of planets and human affairs.

And for all the media attention his pronouncements has garnered:

“I’m having a blast,” Kunkle said. “among other things it calls attention to astronomy.”

So guys and gals

Relax. You are still the zodiac sign you were born with. Your friendly neighborhood astrologer says so.

Nasa Map of Constellations

Ophiuchus image published under a public domain image as described by Wikipedia.

Nasa Map of Constellations for the Northern Hemisphere in June published as a public domain image.

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Astrology and Violence: The Arizona Shooting

Gabrielle Giffords shooting scene

Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Scene

(Astrology Explored) Six are dead, including a Federal court judge and a nine year old girl with some half dozen more wounded. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is in critical condition following surgery for a gunshot wound to the head. The dust has not settled on what the congresswoman’s office called an unspeakable tragedy.

President Obama said, “”It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does: listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors.”

The event at a local Safeway supermarket was a meet and greet where anyone who wanted to could speak to Giffords.

Jared Lee Loughner did. He arrived around 10:00 AM and was told by an aid of Giffords to “wait 20 minutes.”

What he came to do wouldn’t take that long.

By 10:11 AM the first call was made to emergency services. Bystanders wrestled Loughner to the ground and held him there until the police arrived.

Gabrielle Giffords was not expected to win her third bid for office in a hotly contested race. Sarah Palin had Giffords campaign pegged on her “crosshairs” list of targeted congressional races.

As a Democrat who advocated pro-choice, pro-gun rights, pro-health care reform her apparently liberal stances didn’t sit well with some of her constituents. On the eve of the Health Care Reform vote, her office was broken into and vandalized.

Of the current political climate in Arizona

“It’s not a good atmosphere right now, though I’m not saying that’s what prompted this,” said University of Arizona law professor Andy Silverman, who knew Roll well. “But things in Arizona are very tense, and we’ve become the incubator for a lot of immigration-related matters and now for the birthers, too.”

The < a href=””>birthers purport to “seek strict adherence to the Constitution of the United States of America, regardless to the momentary passions of the body politic.” This group’s position is that President Barak Obama is not a natural born citizen, and therefore should not be president.

Since the attack the YouTube and other internet postings of the alleged shooter have been dredged up revealing an individual with a distrust of the government claiming the government employs mind control by “controlling grammar.”

But is it political vitriol the gasoline that fanned the flames of this rampage shooting? Or, as some have written, that Jared Lee Loughner is a victim of mental illness, speculating he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia? What was his motivation? What can astrology tell us?

Looking first at the chart of the shooting we see Mercury in Sagittarius in the tenth. This is Jared, and from the looks of it, with Mercury in challenge aspect to Jupiter and Uranus in Pisces, he has an ideological point to make. Certainly the moon in Pisces represents Giffords, there sitting on the ascendant, of the event chart, connecting with her natal Midheaven and North Node, waiting to greet her constituents. Glamorous Neptune sits next to her and both of them make challenge aspect to the event Mercury. Just as it happened, the easy access Giffords granted to the people of her district provided Loughner with his opportunity with disastrous results.

But was opportunity all to this matter?

Jared Lee Loughner was born on September 10, 1988 according to his arrest records. We do not have birth time and we are assuming since he went to school in Tucson all of his life that he was born there as well.

Representative Giffords, according to Wikipedia was born June 8, 1970, also in Tucson. For both charts we do not have a birth time. Because of this, the shooting, for which we have a close approximate time, is the inside wheel of this composite chart.

In the chart below we see the chart for the shooting as well as for Jared Loughner and Gabrielle Giffords. Quite eerily we see that Loughner’s Mars is sitting on Giffords planet of wounds, Chiron and his Chiron is sitting on her Mars. This is an unusual configuration and we will talk more about the importance of his Mars in a future piece. The event Pluto, the planet of death and tranformation squares Loughner’s Mars and Giffords’ Chiron. In my personal research on violence in cases of people who plan murders of other people Mars and Pluto in energetic connection indicate the deliberate nature of the crime. Law Enforcement believes that Loughner targeted Giffords and the astrology charts do not disagree.

Next: In True Crime and Astrology–The Fractured World of Jared Loughner

Image used under a Creative Commons License as shown on Flickr.

Astrology Chart Giffords Shooting

Astrology Chart Giffords Shooting

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Astrology and the News: Massive Animal Kills Captures Media Attention

Google Maps 'Aflockaplypse'

(Astrology Explored) Fellow astrology blogger Lynn Hayes asked our Astrology Blogger group if anyone found any astrological correlations between the recent massive bird kills reported in the media for the past several days. Various colleagues speculated on shifts in the magnetic field (since birds navigate by them) and the effects of newly discovered planets but there was no one conclusion.

This is not surprising since a plethora of theories have sprung up about these kills, from fireworks, to sudden cold air masses and even to “alien activity.” Still in astrology we practitioners have a love of our synchronistic events so it is only natural for us to look for a portent in the activity of the skies.

Digging into the phenomenon in more pedestrian sources this astrologer found the map below with an intriguing pattern of reported mass animal kills.

Map of recent animal die-offs

The pattern looked familiar. Since we recently experienced a solar eclipse I looked at that eclipse path of that but did not find a correlation. However, take a look at this:

Path of Lunar Eclipse December 21. 2010

Wow! The reports follow the path of the eclipse with the heaviest concentration in the area where the eclipse cast its shadow during the light of day, the United States.

But apparently, despite the media attention, wildlife experts assert that mass die-offs are not that uncommon.

“This is really not the unusual thing that people are trying to make it into,” said Robert Meese, an avian ecologist at the University of California, Davis. “A lot of this stuff happens without anyone documenting it.”


Records kept by the United States Geological Survey list at least 16 die-offs of more than 1,000 blackbirds or starlings over the past 30 years, said Marisa Lubeck, a spokesperson for the USGS in Denver. But group deaths among animals have been going on for a lot longer than that.

In a review study published in 2007 in the journal Ibis, researchers looked through European and North American bird journals and other references dating back to the late 19th century. They found frequent reports of deaths of birds in the hundreds, thousands or more.

So the question becomes why is does the media focus on events that are natural and not so unusual events to point of even coining a name for them, which in this case is Aflockalypse?

As one commenter said responding the news reports:

Why should we believe these “experts”? If they don’t even understand why this is happening and give us bogus excuses like “it’s because of fireworks,” or “cold stress”, etc. etc. – why should we believe them. If it is true that these phenomena “happen all the time” then why are we watching these news stories so carefully – if these incidents are being reported with such emphasis, they must somehow not be like the typical mass deaths that the “experts” are used to?

Well perhaps the answer is in the stars after all. Take a look at the chart of the Winter Solstice eclipse:

Mercury is the planet that is associated with communications and with birds. Notice that Mercury is the caboose of a choo-choo train of planets, that which we call a stellium, involving the Sun, Pluto and Mars. Pluto and Mars together represent death and destruction, favorite topics for the media news mill trying to get our attention (and our ad dollars). All of that is opposite the moon, representing the public in the sign ruled by Mercury, Gemini. If there was ever a topic that fits the bill of this eclipse it that of birds falling dead from the sky.

Eclipses are famous for focusing our attention on a certain area in our lives for a time period from six months to some sources up to a year. Certainly the sychronicity of reported animal kills following the path of the Winter Solstice eclipse shows that our attention is fixed on the path of the eclipse. No doubt, if we believe the scientists, there are animal kills in other part of the world that are not being reported as assiduously. As the media hype for a supposed 2012 apocalypse ratchets up, we can expect more of these alarming stories to be portrayed in the media. Our job as discerning consumers of the news is not let these news bites shape our view of the world. That is for us to do.

Text used in newspaper image from Tech News Daily. Image created from Newspaper Generator.

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