Wednesday, June 1, 2022

"Tin cans on a fence" for target practice: the Astrology of the Uvalde Shooting


"It’s not that we don’t care. We’ve reached the limit of how much we can cry and hurt...And yet we have to...

We have to value each life as a whole world, and be willing to cry for what it means that that whole world has been lost.”--Rabbi Mychal B. Springer, cited in NYTimes



I don't even know where to start this post: for me, the horrors of the past couple weeks stand in stark contrast to the joy I experienced reuniting with family and attending my oldest grandchild's high school graduation in Austin, Texas. The now cruelly griefstricken town of Uvalde is a mere 150 miles southwest of Austin, of course, and the news from Uvalde was never far from any of our minds this past week. 

This is terrifying enough for my beautiful part-Hispanic granddaughters and all of us who love them, but it's almost more sobering and bone-chilling to realize that there is pitiful little political will within our government to stop this madness of gun violence, which is eating away at our national Soul and building up, to our collective shame, a tragic and shameful body count. 

The article cited above also references a teaching of Buddha that provides the perfect metaphor here: the author says America's heart has been "pierced by a poison arrow" of gun violence, and rather than remove the arrow and treat the wound, we insist on wrangling over who and what's to blame for the arrow, on analyzing the features of the arrow and so on. Clearly, there will be no healing if we don't value our own Life as a nation enough to pull out the arrow and treat the poison. 

Rubbing salt in that collective wound is the vicious, unfounded deflection some extreme GOPers are reported to be cultivating by claiming that the Uvalde shooter was really a "trans woman. As always, the parasites eating away at our dignity and humanity as a nation are greedily engorging themselves.

Or, as a good friend of mine who's been relishing her new role as grandmother lately put it:
"What we have is a terrible trade off...people can buy any arms they want and get all the ammo for their deeds, making our babies the tin cans on a fence, the targets for their rage." 

She had a lot more to say, but you get the idea. We're living in an irrational "Us v. Them" world (perfectly suited to our current Neptune-Pluto "weather") that serves corporate profit purposes very nicely, so no life is sacred. "Thoughts and prayers" ring cruel and empty, and the ludicrous rationalizations of those in Congress still suckling at the NRA's breast drip with bitter irony: we should protect fetuses all the way back to conception, but the children we've welcomed into our lives and would die to protect (because the government has apparently been neutered by corporate lobbyists) are fair game? 

Can we not sacrifice our youth?

Or even worse--and perhaps the unspoken rationalization that we must face, if we are to make sense out of the senseless, is that our children are deemed acceptable collateral damage (or what NYTimes writer Maureen Dowd has likened to "human sacrifices"), for the power-hungry Right's quest to fortify their civilian militias with weapons of war? Shooters--who have all the rights and rarely any of the responsibility--need their target practice!

The perversity of today's 2nd Amendment arguments is breathtaking, and I'm sorry, but why else do gun sales take an upward leap every time something like Uvalde happens? Because the "war" footing the Right has adopted is no phantom menace. It's a "one-size-fits-all" justification to keep adding to the arsenals (cha-ching!!), and it's a very real and present danger to the rest of us who just want to live in peace and raise our families.

True, our Founding Fathers knew the importance of citizens being armed in the face of a tyrannical government, but the American Right has twisted and exploited our partisan divide to project that once-imagined tyranny onto any duly-elected government that doesn't empower them. In fact, it's clear that under Trump's guidance, they've decided that this is their path to long-term power: to simply assume that any election they don't win must be illegitimate and react accordingly.

This is encroaching Fascism, folks, and the Right is perilously close to sealing that deal on the backs of our most vulnerable and innocent. There's no need to actively vilify and demonize a minority group like Jews this time around (although some are trying that approach out with their white supremacy delusions and transphobia)--today's fascists have figured out that all they need to do is take the passive aggressive approach of enabling the angry, frustrated and maladjusted in our midst who need "target practice," while offloading any and all responsibility for the consequences onto others. 

This is all in accord with the grim realities of capitalist logic: corporations always look for ways to "manage risk" by rolling it off onto consumers or the public sector; this is why big corporations shop around for locations where the communities are so eager for jobs that they will offer tax abatements. As with so many other passive corporate crimes against humanity (the Opioid crisis comes to mind), those who end up absorbing the risks (in the gun industry, the risk that profits will lag because of gun/ammo regulations) are our most vulnerable. And no corporate executive will ever be held accountable for the poisonous gun culture they have deliberately cultivated in this society with their swaggering, fear-mongering ad campaigns. Needless to say, we all pay the price and bear the risk. 

Bottom line, domestic terrorism has its own very dark logic; to my mind, those who radicalize the young shooters who show up in our classrooms know exactly what they're doing. 


The astrology

So, how can we approach this horrifying situation astrologically? Clearly, we need to consider any factors signifying event "triggers:" since the Uvalde shooting was most conspicuous for its raw, deliberately plotted violence, we need to know which factors provided the shooter with the opportunities to act on his plans. It also helps to ponder "qui bono," or who stood to benefit from his planned actions. Finally and most grimly, we can interrogate which factors supported and/or enabled the infliction of "mass death." 

Racking out our focus to the more collective level, we also need to consider factors that point to the social "trend" we've been seeing in action with these increasingly frequent shootings; undoubtedly, there are outer planetary dynamics that provide a common theme that lace these events together. In reviewing the charts below for the Uvalde shooting and charts for key school shootings from the 1999 Columbine massacre til now, there are, indeed, some grim parallels to examine.


Oxford H.S. shooter Ethan Crumbley (c.) and parents.
Of course, the nativities of the school shooters themselves are also key, but those charts are less accessible and most often, we don't really have insight into their lives, outside of what law enforcement reveals to us. Most often, the shooters don't survive to be held accountable, either; Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old shooter in the recent Oxford High School shooting in my home state of Michigan, is a rare exception to this -- as is the fact that his parents are also being held accountable for the role they played in enabling their sons' actions. 

That being said, we've seen repeatedly that these young shooters tend to be deeply involved in social media, often on the "dark," ideologically-extreme sites where their dark plotting might resonate as "cool." They tend to be young white males who are clearly angry, maladjusted and deluded, but the onus cannot be placed entirely on them: their actions manifest a SOCIETAL poison that we have tragically accommodated ourselves to as a nation. Let's hope the poison hasn't weakened our national Soul beyond repair.

So, trying to make astrological sense of all this is a broad, many-tentacled project that must be rooted in history, culture and psychology and so much more--a complex story for another day, and perhaps another medium. Meanwhile, to examine the short-term reality the nation is dealing with in Uvalde, let's first consider some charts that are pertinent to that event and to the two "sides" of the matter that keep clashing. We'll start with the event chart itself, cast for 11:33 a.m. (news reports indicate that the shooter first entered Robb Elementary school at this time).


The Uvalde shooting



Chart #1. Uvalde mass shooting, May 24, 2022, 11:33 a.m. DST, Uvalde, TX. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.

In the case of an event chart like this, we need to assume that anything happening above the horizon (here, 8+Leo-8+Aquarius) pertains not only to this one event, but also to dynamics unfolding in Society, writ large. The first thing that leaps off the page at me in this chart, in fact, is that the 8th house is packed with key points that make significant further connections--Jupiter-Mars-Moon-Neptune conjunct (from early Aries-to late Pisces). A violent, free-for-all assault (Jupiter-Mars) and death to masses of people (Moon-Neptune) were possibilities that were tragically enabled by a Neptune-Moon-Mars trine to the 4th house South Node (Scorpio) and the Mars-Pluto sextile (Pisces-Capricorn). Mars played the role of "trigger" here, its force amplified by its aggressive Jupiter (Aries) companion. 

An additional signal that this was both an actively- and passively-enabled attack, Venus--not exactly at its peace-making best here in Aries--conjoins disruptive Eris (Aries) and both square 6th house Pluto (Rx, Capricorn), which co-rules the Scorpio 4th with 8th house Mars. Both the 4th and 8th houses have connections with death--the 4th on the more personal, lunar level (agony and grief abound here) and on the more societal 8th house level. The hope felt by those who love this nation and want it to have a strong, healthy future dies a bit more each time these shootings happen. 

It's a story of tragic, mythic proportions: the ever-rising tide of gun violence has spawned our Society's gradual, almost systematic undermining--an unabashedly Neptune-Pluto phenomenon that lies dormant in the background as a national poison, waiting to be triggered.

Clearly, the inner planets and the lunar cycle (including recent eclipses) also play key roles, as does the Nodal axis, an integral factor in eclipse astrology and one that signals broad societal trends. For a look at the eclipse charts we recently considered, follow this link.

Without a doubt, we are feeling some of the more troubling dynamics in those eclipse charts today, such as the April 30th New Moon (solar eclipse) conjunction to Uranus (Taurus) that persisted into the May 16th Full Moon's (lunar eclipse) close relationship with the Nodal axis and its t-square to Saturn's harsh presence in Aquarius. Saturn is equally harsh in this Uvalde chart: it may sextile Venus, but it does so from the volatile, Uranus/Saturn-ruled 7th house and it remains t-square the Taurus-Scorpio Nodal axis. 

This Saturn also rules the significant Capricorn 6th house, which may explain the incredible failures of Uvalde's police force and other public servants leading into and in the midst of this school shooting disaster. Fear of the overwhelming force the shooter had at his disposal was certainly warranted, but nobody said first responders have an easy job: putting themselves in danger to avert catastrophe and carnage is part of the job description.

The Saturn-ruled nature of this 6th house also points to the fact that, two-years+ into the COVID pandemic, a lot of damage has been done to public health (including mental health) and well being. A million people dead is somehow too abstract sounding, but the toll has been very real. This malaise forms a troubling backdrop (like a persistent collective "toothache") for the more recent stresses added by inflation and supply chain shortages. 

So, the nation is in the throes of several concurrent crises, both short- and longer-term (another reason to look back at that packed 8th house here, too), and that's a very different challenge from having easily identifiable, exterior "enemies" that our leaders are well-practiced in combatting. This time, the enemy is largely within. 

Bottom line, our national Psyche/Soul is sorely pressed at the moment, and that can't help but invite problems. It seems to me that more vigilance, more compassion, more readiness to act forcefully to prevent problems as well as to address those that erupt is the only way out of this. Saturn semi-sextiles Neptune (Aquarius-Pisces)--perhaps giving us both the active and passive tools we need to move forward, if we use them well. A semi-sextile seems insignificant, but here it signals that these two key planets are in balsamic phase, a difficult time of clearing the way for new energies to emerge in society. Besides, if we consider that Saturn also conjoins the Moon/Pluto and Neptune/Pluto midpoints, the sheer weight of the situation and the importance of this aspect come into focus. 

Will we truthfully confront the issues (especially cultural and economic ones) that so perniciously keep us from solving problems? Will we actually listen to the shattering grief our collective inertia has caused in the hearts of this nation? Will we overcome the deliberate subversion of our collective Will and finally move forward on this Soul-destroying dilemma?  

TX Gov. Greg Abbott, visiting Robb Elementary in Uvalde.

And then, there's Gov. Abbott

Speaking of public servants, as evoked in 6th house issues raised by the above chart, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is a public servant who has actively sought to dismantle any protections that schoolchildren in his state might enjoy from proliferating guns--in fact, Abbott just signed a new law that makes Texas an "open carry" state and essentially eliminates any permitting requirements. So much for screening for mental illness! 

He also signed a bill that "bars state agencies from working with a firm that 'discriminates' against companies or individuals in the gun industry. One provision of the law requires banks and other professional-services firms to submit written affirmations that they comply with the law." So, making sure the gun industry gets any and all funding it might want to pursue ever-greater gun production and sales is clearly a big priority for Gregg Abbott; as for the situation in Uvalde, his early response was to be angry that he was misinformed about the embarrassing and death-producing police response. 

Surely having the Uvalde shooting happen so close to the gun industry's big NRA bash was another irritant, but bottom line, if truly supporting the ineffective safeguards that he and the GOP in general tend to lean on in these situations was a real priority to him, he hasn't shown as much with his policy-making and fiscal allocations

So, yes, Beto O'Rourke, it's hard to disagree that what happened in Uvalde is on Gov. Abbott because the "buck" is supposed to stop on the Executive's desk, and the laws he has promoted and signed do nothing but make children less safe in Texas. The only way accountability will happen, however, is if Texas voters agree with O'Rourke (Abbott's opponent in the governor's race) this fall. Texas is also a state with ever-stricter voting regulations, designed to suppress votes in vulnerable (mostly Democratic-leaning, surprise, surprise) districts, so the potential for change in the Governor's mansion is probably a long-shot. But stranger things have happened: I hope, for my granddaughters' sakes, that this time things will be different. 

With this in mind, let's briefly examine a bi-wheel that sets Abbott's noon chart (no time available) against Chart 1 above for the shooting. I've placed Abbott's chart on the outer ring because it's untimed, whereas the shooting chart is timed. 

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) Uvalde mass shooting, May 24, 2022, 11:33 a.m. DST, Uvalde, TX; (outer wheel) Greg Abbott, November 13, 1957, 12:00 p.m., (ST, noon chart, no time available), Wichita Falls, TX. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast on Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.

Abbott Sun conjoins Shooting So. Node (both Scorpio) and opposes Shooting No-Node-Uranus (Taurus); Abbott Sun-Shooting Nodal axis t-squares Shooting Saturn (Aquarius). The limits of prudence and rationality that he has pushed in his quest to expand gun rights now seem at odds with public thinking. Does this mean he will back off and retrace his steps, with public safety in mind? This doesn't seem likely with his Sun also trine Shooting Neptune-Moon-Mars (Pisces), but it does seem possible that a "wave" of public opinion could facilitate a downturn in his popularity (Sun conjunct Shooting So. Node). 

This possibility is reinforced by his Chiron-Uranus opposition (Aquarius-Leo) t-squaring Shooting Uranus-Pallas (Aquarius-Taurus). He may be shocked by the public outrage that his recent gun-related bills could spark, in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting--his Uranus-Chiron stretches across and conjoin the Shooting chart horizon, and with Shooting Uranus transiting into its 3Q in regards to his natal Uranus, he's faced with a major, potentially life-altering outer planetary transit. 

This transit signals that it's time for him to "get real" about fulfilling what he set out to do as a public servant. Such individuals often serve well into their senior years however, and this transit can bring on a career-related crisis. Given the involvement of his Chiron here, it's not difficult to imagine that any crisis that arises could feel like a brutal wake-up call. 

This is not an election prediction, to be sure, but factors to keep in mind as the election kicks into high gear.



President & Dr. Jill Biden comforting Uvalde victims.

Final thoughts

It does feel to me that something in this latest atrocity in an American school has brought us to a tipping point where action is non-negotiable. Atlantic writer Gal Beckerman is proposing a two-pronged approach, in fact, that might have more teeth than our usual feckless responses: first, families should refuse to send their children to schools until Congress actually acts on gun safety laws; second, that the media should keep the narrative alive, despite the natural tendency for people to start zoning out about stories like these all too soon. Neither of these actions is simple to effect, but even pockets of this kind of resistance could be meaningful.

Beckerman says, "Moments like this one, 'when the ideals of a critical mass clash with the rules that govern our collective lives, can … give rise to effective social movements.'" 

So, everyone can play a role, whether they have school-aged children or not: we're all part of this society and the safety and well being of children growing up within it should be everyone's concern.
This actually speaks to a reality that is difficult to pin down astrologically, but is still supremely important: the "drag" that broad, collective, outer planetary phenomenon like "culture" (as in "gun culture" or "corporate culture") can produce when action is needed on the more narrow level of practical, workaday society. This is the Jupiter-Saturn level that governs the laws we use to organize and manage our societies--not to mention the essential give-and-take between freedom and responsibility that infuses those laws. 

Why are lobbyists so able to influence which laws make it onto our books and which do not? Many times it seems to come down to Neptunian corruption, egged on and leveraged by deep, Plutonian pockets. In fact, these same planets often seem to subvert any attempts to hold corporations and Wall Street responsible for perpetuating what economist David C. Korten calls the "Death Economy"--our deep-rooted system that keeps us forever in thrall to forces that do not have our best interests at heart. By contrast, Korten's landmark An Agenda for a New Economy proposes that we transform our economic systems to support "Real Wealth/Living Wealth": 1 

"Real wealth has intrinsic value, as contrasted to exchange value. Life, not money, is the measure of real-wealth value. Examples include land, labor, knowledge and physical infrastructure.
The most important forms of wealth are beyond price and are unavailable for market purchase. These include healthy, happy children, loving families, caring communities, and a beautiful, healthy, natural environment...

Because of the essential role of caring relationships, the monetization and commodification of real wealth, which generally translates into the monetization and commodification of relationships, tends to diminish their real value."

It's easy to see why Korten dubs our present system of monetized and commodified relationships the "Death Economy:" the Gun industry has managed to lobby laws into existence that hold them harmless when innocent children are mowed down by their weapons of war.  From The Giffords Law Center:

"With nearly every American industry and product, civil liability can be used as an important check on irresponsible manufacturers and sellers—but not the gun industry. When Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005, our leaders made the gun industry immune from nearly all lawsuits, leaving families of gun violence victims without an avenue to seek justice."

This should tell us a lot about the value that gun manufacturers--and too many members of Congress--place on human life. The gun producer/gun buyer relationship is easily cultivated and commodified, but the victims who result from their transactions are simply not part of the equation. They're an "externalized" risk that Congress has been so gracious about neutering for those with the deepest pockets, in return for support. So another commodified relationship that reeks of Death. 

So, there's a reason passing life-affirming gun laws is difficult; in fact there are several reasons, but none that touch so centrally on the issue as "follow the Money." Still, though it's discouraging to realize the fact, we can perhaps take heart that this dilemma seems to be the quintessential "American" problem. If it can be solved elsewhere, however, it can be solved here too, if only everyone who cares about creating a better life for children and families accepts the challenge and refuses to passively "get over" the shock and horror of the past week. And so many weeks before that. 

I'm committed to doing my part: in another post soon, we will examine a few charts for the most prominent and widely-discussed school shootings in the past 25 years in order to tease out common astrological factors and nuances. 

Meanwhile, may we never forget!! Love & Light to our fallen angels, their grieving families, and to us all!




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, U.S. history, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. She’s published articles on these topics in several key astrology journals over the years, including most recently, the TMA blog. For information about individual chart readings, contact:
© Raye Robertson 2022. All rights reserved.

1 David C. Korten, Agenda for a New Economy: from Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, 2nd ed., by the People Centered Development Forum, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 2010, pp. 18-19.