Thursday, February 22, 2018

Unacceptable sacrifices: the Astrology of the Parkland Shooting & Beyond

“It’s a hard world for little things…”  

The Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955)

This all too prescient line formed a repeating motif in Charles Laughton’s directorial masterpiece in 1955. Night of the Hunter was filmed in glorious “Film Noir” black and white—a perfect fit for its grisly, Darwinian message. The film reminds us in both subtle and starkly expressionist ways that it’s “survival of the fittest” in this world, and it taunts our deep-rooted American idealism about nurturing children in loving families—complete with the proverbial white picket fences, Mom in the kitchen baking apple pies. 

Indeed, there is a loving mother figure in the film (Miss Cooper, portrayed by Lillian Gish) who rescues children from that dog-eat-dog world and fosters them—even gives them apples (the film plays up the symbolism) as Christmas presents. But Miss Cooper captures the moral core of the story best when, looking out her window she witnesses an owl swoop down and snatch a young rabbit in its claws, she intones that “It’s a hard world for little things.” 

Yes, the Darwinian (also Plutonian) truism that Nature is “red in tooth-and-claw” has no special regard for the young and helpless—it’s all about the predator stalking its prey. Set in the hard-scrabble Depression era, Laughton’s rural American narrative is rife with messes created by the “adults”—the people and institutions whose shortcomings deliver a steady flow of children to Miss Cooper’s doorstep. 

This story came to mind this past week when the teens who survived the February 14th Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida resolved to not wait for the adults—i.e., their elected officials—to pass common sense solutions to gun violence that would help them feel safe in their own school. They’re aware that this will never happen if the gun lobby continues driving our politics. These kids resolved instead to take their case to the public at large, and to “speak truth to power,” as only teenagers can. 

In a short week, they and the parents of murdered children have raised a nationwide outcry, calling politicians out for accepting money from the NRA, and challenging them to get serious about passing a saner set of gun laws—at the very least laws that ban war-making machines like the AR-15 rifle from personal use. The AR-15 is the high-powered automatic rifle that was used to shoot up their school, and it seems to be the weapon of choice for most mass murderers. People have been mowed down in other schools, in churches, in nightclubs, in movie theaters—all with this same weapon. 

Early signs for the teens’ #NeverAgain movement are good, in terms of public sentiment, but not so good in terms of actual legislation. Their CNN-sponsored town hall meeting with Senator Marco Rubio (R, Fl) was a study in prevarication, although CNN pointed out that Rubio at least showed up to face people’s demands—Florida’s governor Rick Scott did not. The Florida legislature—the one that you might think would support the Parkland survivors the mostvoted on Tuesday to not even consider a ban on the AR-15. 

Shooting survivors witnessed this vote, noting that it took only “3 minutes” for so many to press the “No” button.  Instead, the legislators used their session to “declare that porn is dangerous.” Stoneman-Douglas junior Sheryl Acquaroli responded by saying, “If there is another mass shooting it’s going to be their fault.” 

Clearly, these kids are going to need all the help they can get. To his credit, Trump hosted a group from Parkland and Sandy Hook and listened to some dramatically emotional stories from them in the White House on Wednesday, even fielding their ideas for new action. Casting shade on that meeting was Trump’s record on gun control issues to date: will he reverse actions he’s taken to make buying a gun easier for the mentally ill as a consequence?

So far, his solutions for the problem of school shootings range between raising the age for purchasing assault rifles and arming teachers. As a former educator myself, I can attest that teachers don’t want to be armed guards; they want to teach. And they know that turning schools into an armed camp is not conducive to learning. 

Again, the question goes back to the nation’s children: why should their wellbeing be sacrificed so the NRA can market more guns, more quickly? 

Because of the nature of the AR-15, the “next” attack will be yet another unfair fight—a point that you would think would resonate with gun-toting sportsmen. In Las Vegas this past summer, the shooter stood several flights above the music festival crowd in his hotel room and shot down at his victims like captive fish in a barrel. 

In Parkland, the shooter reportedly set off the alarm and started picking off students as they poured into the hallway. It’s hard to say if these shooters are deluded enough to see themselves as “warriors,” but there’s nothing honorable or warrior-worthy in killing innocent, unarmed people—children—with a high-powered rifle. 

It’s tantamount to being at war within our own borders. Which kind of fits the reality here: the gun lobby is, indeed, an over-glutted war machine that treats the rest of us like expendable materiel. Their only solution to violence is to sell more guns. That’s like saying the only solution to drug addiction is more drugs. How’s that working for us?  

If honor is even an issue with the gun lobby, there’s nothing honorable about buying Congress people, who then send “thoughts and prayers” to shooting victims. Prayers without action are empty and gutless, a way of washing one’s hands of the next despicable (and inevitable) tragedy, and I applaud the teens at Stoneman-Douglas for saying so, out loud.  

IMHO, this time the narrative is getting off to a better start, focusing on the fact that innocent bystanders are the shooter’s prey—especially children. Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz bragged on social media that he was going to be a “professional school shooter.” Guns and anger, fueled by extremist thinking on a variety of fronts (racist, anti-semitic, anti-immigrant) were his thing, apparently, and he was, in retrospect, fully aware of whom he wanted to target. 

In fact, Cruz reportedly even bragged about killing animals. Maybe we have to have some compassion for a young man who lost both parents very young, and perhaps never felt loved or empowered by those who took up the slack, but we also need to protect ourselves from anyone with such violent impulses.

Which brings us to what seems to be the heart of the issue, and a reason these mass shooters  should perhaps be labeled terrorists: children are fair game for them, because by killing children they create maximum horror, sending shock waves into a nation’s primal sense of security. 

Cruz’s chilling social media posts display a young man who idealizes violence and has little regard for human life—he even applauds other mass shootings. We have to wonder: did anyone ever teach this young man that killing does not make the man, that there’s no honor in killing for the sake of killing, and that there’s certainly no glory in killing children

Cruz has a history with Junior ROTC and air rifle shooting in school: we have to wonder what he took from those experiences. Are we failing in a broader sense to guide our young men in this society? This is our collective responsibility, after all. 

If we can’t protect and guide our young, we are vulnerable indeed…this imperative pulses deeply in our human Moon-Pluto-driven survival instinct. Not every individual needs to procreate, naturally, but collectively, every society must perpetuate itself into the next generation, or be doomed to extinction, and that means that we have a stake in protecting all our children. 

Clearly, this survival imperative can be twisted for dark purposes—i.e., to “purify” the gene pool, to equate culture with a narrowly-defined genetic line, and not with a more expansive/inclusive set of values and ideals, and so on. Pluto’s darker side runs deep in these existential drives—and not surprisingly, it often traffics in big money and big power, focused around weaponizing these narrow survival fears. Even if its original mandate was something far different, the NRA has evolved into a dark, fear-mongering marketing arm for the gun industry. IMHO, we need to seriously question its power over us.  

If it takes a band of determined teenagers to wake us all up, so be it. 

So, what can astrology tell us about all this? As it happens, quite a lot. Let’s examine a triwheel for the shooting (2:20 p.m. timing taken from the news), the U.S. Sibly radix chart and the Sibly progressed chart. The progressed chart represents how our culture and sensibilities have evolved over time from 1776, with the Sun and Moon placements being especially critical. As for the transits on February 14th, it seems that the “Big Guy,” Jupiter, played an even more outsized role than usual, with his Scorpio co-ruler Mars a close second! 

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) US Sibly Chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (middle wheel) US Sibly Chart, progressed for February 14, 2018, 12:00 a.m. GMT, Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) Parkland Shooting, February 14, 2018, 2:20 p.m. ST, Parkland, FL

Parkland Sun-Mercury (Aquarius) conjoin Sibly Moon and Progressed Sibly Mercury (Aquarius); Parkland Sun-Mercury sextile Parkland Uranus (Aries)-Progressed Sibly Venus. We could stretch the orbs a bit here to pull Sibly Chiron into the Aries grouping, however we’ll have more to say about the Sibly 5th house Chiron (wounds to America’s children) in a while. The theme of children and youth is carried in Mercury’s strong involvement here, as well; with all this happening conjunct our 3rd house national Moon, clearly, this event resonated deeply with families and those in the education (3rd house) field.

The sextiles to the Aries points (Uranus and Progressed Sibly Venus) impact that sensitive 5th house, suggesting an opening for financial interests, in the wake of grave disruption to America’s children. Indeed, the gun shows were buzzing immediately after the Parkland attack, a phenomenon that we see repeated every time one of these mass shootings occurs. It’s not hard to see why—the more dollars their supporting gun manufacturers make in the wake of a disaster, the better the NRA likes it. It’s not difficult to stoke the fears of diehard gun enthusiasts (I’m being kind here) that the Big Bad Government is going to take their guns away, and it’s definitely good for business. 

Notice I stopped short of saying that the NRA courts, or welcomes disasters: I don’t have the facts to substantiate a claim like that, but disasters, attacks and crises can be incredibly profitable, so the temptation to court such things must be real. It’s no accident that the dollars flow where they do and when they do in response. Parkland Uranus and Progressed Sibly Venus are drawing that connection here.  

Interchart T-Square: Parkland Mars (Sagittarius) conjoins Sibly ASC and opposes Sibly DSC-Uranus (Gemini); this axis squares Sibly Progressed Sun conjoined Parkland Neptune (Pisces). Again, if we stretched the orbs a bit, this configuration would take in Sibly Mars (Gemini) as well, but we’ll save that sensitive point for another important discussion—there’s plenty to consider here already! 

Any time Mars and Neptune are in aspect, we have to suspect that actions (potentially violent, with Mars) based on delusions, addictions, distorted facts and/or “conspiracy” thinking are involved. Such thinking often taps into a “victimization” narrative, and nothing productive ever seems to come from that. As it happens, Cruz’s noon chart features some connections to this tense mutable configuration—especially a transit by Neptune to his natal Chiron (available birth data: September 24, 1998 in Margate, FL) that suggests he may have been feeling not only intensely victimized recently, but also deluded into thinking that the horror he was contemplating with the Parkland shooting would somehow “redeem” him. 

Was he planning to be a “martyr” (Neptune-Chiron) to some illusory “cause” that day? We’ll probably never know, but we can also see that Mars has only recently transited over his Sagittarius Pluto (at 5°+)—an apt time for a would-be “warrior” to arm himself for the “battles” playing out in his mind. It shouldn’t escape us that Parkland Mars (outer wheel, Triwheel #1) also tightly conjoins the Sibly ASC (Sagittarius) and opposes Sibly Uranus (Gemini). Placed in the Sibly 6th house, this Uranus  energizes our military forces. At the Sibly DSC, this placement is sensitive, falling within 12°+ of Sibly Mars (Gemini). 

So, the Mars transit could be characterized as a “call to arms:” in fact, transits to the Sibly horizon often mean hostilities lie ahead (Saturn and Pluto stretched across this horizon on 9/11/2001, for instance).  As we’re already seeing, the Parkland shooting has stirred up the wasp’s nest of gun politics in a big way: will we see armed protests designed to counter the #NeverAgain movement? Stay tuned for possible volatility as Mars transits opposite Sibly Mars in early March. 

Parkland Jupiter (Scorpio) makes several aspects between these charts, and each aspect points to some important facet of Jupiter’s outsized influence in Scorpio, a sign co-ruled here by a volatile Sagittarius Mars and an ambitious, Capricorn Pluto. Let’s break it down:

-         Jupiter sextiles Sibly Neptune (Virgo) and Parkland Pluto (Capricorn). Euphoria and a rush of high-minded idealism often accompany a Jupiter-Neptune aspect—perhaps the aspect that’s encouraged the Stoneman-Douglas teens to start their #NeverAgain movement rather than simply feel victimized, but this nice sextile can also instigate a backlash to that idealism: mass confusion, conspiracy thinking, deception, skepticism and (with Scorpio involved) cynicism. The so-called “crisis actors” claim circulating out there is an example of this.

Linking Scorpio and Virgo, this aspect may also show that the “perfect has become the enemy of the good,” enabling the passive resistance (Neptune) of legislators who claim tighter gun control measures wouldn’t have stopped Cruz from carrying out his rampage.

The sextile of Parkland Jupiter to Parkland Pluto (Capricorn) suggests an opening for powerful players to act in harsh, Plutonian ways (Scorpio is co-ruled by Mars and Pluto): this unfortunately supported Cruz’s deadly plans. The sheer ruthlessness of the shooter’s act, the intensity of and the devastation created by the situation in Parkland are all reflected here. Not coincidentally, Jupiter-Pluto combinations evoke big (mega) finances, as well—gun industry profits tend to spike in the aftermath of mass shootings. This tragedy is sorely testing the ethical (Jupiter) limits of capitalism (Pluto), not to mention the characters of our legislators.  

-        Interchart Water Grand Trine: Jupiter trines Parkland Chiron (Pisces), Sibly Mercury and the Sibly Progressed Jupiter/No. Node midpoint (all in Cancer). This flowing, emotional circuit of energy suggests that we’re at a turning point where the nagging, recurring agony (Chiron) of continued mass shootings (especially of school children) has broken the floodgates of public opinion (Sibly Mercury), unlike so many other mass shootings that simply died out in the news after the funerals.  

      The trine to our national Progressed Jupiter/No. Node midpoint speaks to timely, idealistic joint ventures (the #NeverAgain movement?), persuasion based on future visions for the nation, and perhaps a sense that this is a moment of destiny.

-         Jupiter inconjoins Parkland Uranus-Eris (Aries). I apologize that my software doesn’t display Eris, but this disruptive player sits at 22°+ Aries in the Parkland chart—within a reasonable orb to Uranus and square Pluto (Capricorn). There’s a certain “David vs. Goliath” feel to Eris’s role in these aspects, except that Eris is a militant feminine player, the so-called “Goddess of Discord.” She may be small (a “dwarf planet”), but she’s mighty, and doesn’t shrink from a challenge, being the sister of warrior Mars! We’ve seen her fingerprints on the #MeToo movement, and we will undoubtedly see them on the #NeverAgain movement. 

      Indeed, the Stoneman-Douglas girls committed to the #NeverAgain movement are amazingly articulate and courageous. They're following in a long tradition of female warriors.


The inconjuncts involved here speak to the frustrating clash of interests reflected in the Parkland shooting, as in every other mass shooting. To other nations watching our news, the choices look simple: human lives should be more highly valued than gun industry profits and political contributions, period. It’s a no brainer—they study the issue with the goal of public safety in mind, then follow up by passing saner laws to achieve this goal—done and done.

Except nothing seems more difficult to achieve in our current discordant, NRA-dominated culture. I was heartened by yesterday’s White House meeting when Nicole Hockley’s pragmatic, solutions-based requests were highlighted. She’s the mother of slain 6-year-old Dylan and the managing director of the Sandy Hook Promise organization, and she repeated over and over that sane gun control laws “are not that difficult.” Connecticut has made dramatic progress since the Sandy Hook disaster because of this mindset, so maybe there’s hope.  

We haven’t heard the last of the frustrating disconnects, of course, and it’s not likely we’re going to see substantive change in the next couple years. Unfortunately, Jupiter will be transiting its home sign of Sagittarius—not very conducive to new regulations that restrict perceived “freedoms.” Maybe I’m just being cynical here—a more hopeful vision could reframe our worn out 2nd Amendment “freedom” narrative to place higher value on the freedom to be educated (Sagittarius) without fear. Or on the basic rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” IMHO, the NRA mindset needs to be forced to recede out along the extreme fringes again.

If that doesn’t work in the short term, there could be another opportunity to push improved laws when Jupiter joins Saturn in its home sign of Capricorn near the end of 2019. 

Interchart T-Square: Sibly Progressed Moon (Sagittarius) opposes Sibly Mars-Parkland Part-of-Fortune (Gemini); this axis squares Parkland Chiron (Pisces). We are in a critical progressed 3rd quarter lunar phase as a nation, and as I wrote in a May, 2016 post, it was bound to be volatile. I couldn’t have envisioned then, however, how many of our own children (Progressed Moon) we would be burying as a nation during these tormented, violent (Mars) times. 

There’s a reason the Parkland Part-of-Fortune fell so directly opposite our collective Progressed Moon that day, however: one person’s tragedy and deep woundedness (Chiron) is another’s spike in profits. In this dog-eat-dog, Darwinian world, one corporate behemoth’s opportunity (“fortune”) demands the ongoing sacrifice of innocents. And perhaps our national innocence.  

Again, “it’s a hard world for little things.” 

Final thoughts

IMHO, the hundreds of mass shooting victims we’ve mourned since the 1999 Columbine massacre are simply unacceptable sacrifices to the fickle Second Amendment/NRA “god.” It also seems to me that the perverse accommodations we have made as a society for the “freedom to bear arms” have crossed a line that threatens our national Soul. I agree with the teens of Stoneman Douglas High that even the most sincere “thoughts and sympathies” are simply not enough. And no, Mr. President, these latest 17 deaths are not about you! His attempts to spin the Parkland attack as a sign that he’s been mistreated in the Russia investigation are simply repulsive. 

So, we’ll see if Trump’s gestures today (Wednesday) to support and listen to the victimized families are anything more than lip service. No doubt, his calling for stronger gun laws in Congress would really test the GOP’s loyalty to him over their natural ideological hang-ups. He said he “loves” DACA kids, too—how seriously can we take his words? 

The House is a particularly hard case, of course: change is not going to come to that body in the wake of the Parkland shooting any easier than it’s come to the Florida legislature. 

As this unfolds, will anyone take the brave step of telling the NRA to take their money and shove it? It’ll be a good day when an “F” from the NRA is a badge of honor in Congress!

Bottom line, the Stoneman-Douglas teens—and all our children—deserve better.  Far better.

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at:

© Raye Robertson 2018. All rights reserved. 

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