Tumult & Bloodshed: April 2013 & Mars

As one would expect from a month dominated by Martian energy, not to mention a lunar eclipse in Scorpio, April 2013 proved to be rather eventful, and somewhat bloody month.

As well as the death of Britain’s first and (so far) only female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher on the 8th in London at around 11am BST, we also experienced the Boston bombings just over a week later, on the 16th at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, as well as plenty of political tension in the Far East as a result of aggressive threats issued towards South Korea and the West from North Korea.

As if that wasn’t enough, the conflict in Syria went up a notch as reports began to emerge that the regime might be using chemical weapons to suppress the popular rebellion movement.

In the Middle East, the region around Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan was also hit by a series of powerful earthquakes, the worst of which reached a magnitude of 7.8 and left more than 40 people dead in Iran. 

So what to make of all this astrologically?

Pluto, North Korea and Margaret Thatcher

With regards to the death of Margaret Thatcher, which led to unexpectedly strong reactions from various sectors of British society, the obvious, most emblematic planet of this particular event, given Thatcher’s own natal chart, has to be Pluto. Not only did Pluto station on April the 12th, but it also ruled the lunar eclipse in Scorpio that occurred around the Full Moon on the 25th, bringing a six month cycle to an end.

Equally, the North Korean situation developed out of the dictatorship’s assertion that it had managed to acquire and build nuclear weapons. As we know the two planets associated with nuclear weapons are Pluto (Plutonium) and Uranus (Uranium). Although the situation seemed to fizzle out, perhaps because of actions taken behind the scenes by China, my own feeling is that this particular threat will not go away for the foreseeable future. We are due for another episode in the rather explosive saga that is the Uranus and Pluto square next month (May the 20th)  which takes place just before the solar eclipse in Taurus (25th) followed by a second pass in November (1st). So in my mind, the world is far from being out of the woods with regards to brutal dictatorships and ruthless totalitarian regimes trying to cling onto power through almost any means possible, nuclear or otherwise.

As if to confirm this, on the day of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral (17 April 2013), I happened to cast an event chart an hour before the official start time of 11h00 BST, and there, directly on the  Descendent, was Pluto in Capricorn. Pluto is also the natal ruler of Lady Thatcher’s natal chart (she has Scorpio rising), so even in death, her presence seemed to be as palpable, and as polarising, as ever. Whatever else one can say about her, she certainly changed the political landscape forever and like many of her generation, many of whom have their natal Pluto in Cancer (and therefore would be experiencing the rather terrifying prospect of a transiting Pluto opposition in their charts), helped to shape the world we live in today.

But what of the other rather violent events that took place during April?

Aries/Mars and War, Bloodshed and Bombings

Firstly, it has been a pattern since the ingress of Uranus into Aries for there to be an escalation in popular uprisings and political unrest every March/April. Think of the Arab Spring of 2011 when Uranus re-entered Aries after a retrograde spell and the London Riots of August 2011 that occurred when Uranus in Aries was in orb of the first set of squares to Pluto. However, although these planets certainly played a role in what occurred, if we want to fairly purist about the astrology, on both occasions, Uranus was not quite in position (Arab Spring: Uranus ingressed into Aries on the 6th of March 2011 but the political uprisings actually began in late January of that year) when things kicked off. So what could have been the catalyst?

Interestingly, if we look back, it would appear that Mars had a direct hand in setting events in motion. In the case of the Arab Spring, Mars happened to be in Uranus-ruled Aquarius – a sign associated with utopianism and a desire for things like liberty, equality and fraternity, and was orbiting close to the Sun at the time that violence and protects erupted in Egypt and Tunisia.

During the London Riots, the signature of Mars was also present. On the 7th of August 2011, the night after the demonstration outside Tottenham Police Station that kick-started what would turn out to be a week-long spree of looting, violence and confrontations with police[1], Mars in Cancer happened to come very close to an exact T-Square with Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn.

As I pointed out in my September 2011 Astro-Insights blog about the London Riots, Mars energy was also prominent during the students’ demonstrations back in March 2011 concerning the introduction of university tuition fees, which turned increasingly violent as first Jupiter, then Mercury, Uranus and finally the Sun entered Aries and squared Saturn in Libra.

Perhaps given our own culture which values assertiveness and action, it is easy to forget that Mars is, traditionally, the lesser malefic and rules war, surgery and butchery. Like Aries, the sign that it rules, it is associated with youth, impulsiveness and indeed, initiating action.

Ptolemy refers to the ‘destructive and inharmonious’ qualities of Mars[2], saying that: ‘The nature of Mars is chiefly to dry and to burn, in conformity with his fiery colour.’[3]

Elsewhere he discusses the two malefics, Mars and Saturn stating that the two planets are ‘destructive and passive,’ and that through the qualities of dryness (Mars) and cold (Saturn), ‘all things, again, are separated and destroyed’.[4] Ptolemy attributes much of this to the fact that Mars, as the traditional ruler of Aries and Scorpio, makes square aspects to the natural domiciles of the Sun (Leo) and Moon (Cancer).

Discussing the role of Mars in mundane events, he writes:

Mars, when he assumes the rulership alone, is in general the cause of destruction through dryness and in particular, when the event concerns men, brings about wars, civil faction, capture, enslavement, uprisings, the wrath of leaders, and sudden deaths arising from such causes; moreover, … swift and violent deaths, especially in the prime of life; similarly, violence, assaults, lawlessness, arson and murder, robbery and piracy. With regard to the condition of the air he causes hot weather, warm, pestilential, and withering winds, the loosing of lightning and hurricanes, and drought…[5]

Clearly, then, for the ancients, Mars was no picnic!

So, is there any sign of a Mars signature in the Boston Bombings? Let’s take a look at the charts for the Boston Bombings to see if we can unpack this particular topic in further detail.

Boston Marathon – Terrorism or disaffected youth?

Spectators of the Boston Marathon were more than a little shocked; and authorities, somewhat bewildered by the strangely timed series of explosions that went off on the 16th of April, more than two hours after the first runners had made it across the finish line.[6]

Soon afterwards, many news channels began to speculate about the possible reasons for the attack. Some drew attention to the fact that the bomb took place close to the anniversaries of two other major incidents in America’s recent history – the Waco siege in Texas in 1993, during which more than 70 members of a religious cult died; the Oklahoma bombing, which took place on 19 April 1995. Some also thought that it might be significant that the marathon took place over the Patriots’ Day holiday week-end – a symbolic day to choose if you want to make a political statement…

Even now, with one suspected perpetrator dead, and another in hospital after being apprehended during an intense manhunt that lasted nearly nine hours on 19 April, the motivations for the attack remain unclear.

According to Wikipedia,

During an initial interrogation in the hospital, Dzhokhar said extremist Islamist beliefs and the U.S. Iraq War and War in Afghanistan were motivations for the bombings. Dzhokhar identified his brother [Tamerlan] as the mastermind and said they were self-radicalized and not connected to any outside terrorist groups.[7]

Yet many questions remain. Why the Boston Marathon? Why two hours after the race? What drove them to commit such acts of terror?

Can the astrology of these bombings shed any light on what happened that day and why?

On the day of the marathon, the Sun and Mars were within orb of a conjunction in Aries – a joining of energies that peaked in the early hours of April the 18th in UK terms (but early evening of the 17th in Massachusetts.) If we consider that Mars was its own sign of Aries at the time, and that the Sun happens to be exalted in Aries, then this particular combination of masculine energy could have the potential to become quite dangerous.  Both the Sun and Mars have a dark side that can reveal itself in the form of egotism, arrogance, aggression, impulsivity and anger. If we take into account the fact that both planets are positioned in the 8th house, which the ancients associated with death, then this pairing begins to take on a rather sinister air.

Amplifying the Aries/Martian theme of the day is the presence of Uranus and Mercury on the Descendent, also in Aries and orbiting close to each other, but not quite making a conjunction.

Given that the Boston Bombings Event Chart has Virgo rising, Mercury begins to take on added significance because of its role as chart ruler. The position of Mercury in the 7th house indicates that it may hold clues as to the identity/ies and/or nature of the perpetrator/s of this particular event. Mercury is in Aries, which suggests someone young with an impulsive, independent frame of mind who talks and thinks quickly. Was this a spur of the moment decision? And could it explain the poor timing and rather primitive devices used to commit these atrocities? If we consider subsequent news reports that claim that

Using Placidus houses, Mercury rules the cusps of the 10th house (public statement) and the Midheaven (both in Gemini), as well as the 12th and the 1st houses (both in Virgo). By itself, this suggests treachery and hidden enemies (12th house) and perhaps actions that aim to make a public statement (Midheaven in Gemini). The dual aspect of Gemini (the Twins) on the Midheaven also points to two parties being involved – the Brothers Tsarnaev? However, other than its proximity to Uranus, Mercury is completely unaspected. Does this confirm that they were, in fact, working alone and not affiliated to any particular political or extremist organisation?

If we look closer, we notice that Jupiter in Gemini is in the 9th house of religious and political beliefs – it’s natural ‘home’ – quite a strong placing and perhaps giving credence to the theory that these attacks may well have an ideological motivation. If we look at the chart as you would a horary with derived houses, then this house becomes the 3rd house from the 7th, possibly indicating that the dogmatic views of one of the siblings may have played a part in motivating the attack. Jupiter is in detriment in Gemini and is making a square to Chiron in Pisces, which suggests that these motivations may well have been misguided, stemming instead from an early childhood experience that could have resulted in feelings of alienation and disillusionment. Jupiter is also the ruler of the IC, the angle ruling home, parenthood and a sense of belonging – could it be that these two young men did not feel that they fitted into American society and so identified instead with the customs and beliefs of their fatherland, Chechnya?

According to the BBC:

The Tsarnaevs are ethnic Chechens from the troubled Caucasus region of southern Russia. Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim area that has fought for full independence from Russia in the past.[8]

We have limited birth data for Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev but we do know that Tamerlan was born on 21 October 1986 somewhere in the former independent Soviet Republic of Kalmakyia (which incidentally, has an asteroid named after it![9]). Although we do not have a birth time, we can say with a fair degree of certainty that he was a Sun sign Libra with quite a few planets, including Pluto, Mercury and Venus in vengeful, manipulative Scorpio.

Natal Pluto just happens to make a square to his natal Mars in Aquarius. This combination is especially volatile and can lead to a tendency to repress intense emotions, particularly anger, which can then manifest in violent or vengeful episodes, or in a sort of obsessive and unhealthy attraction to death and destruction. Mars in Aquarius can sometimes lead to zealotry and an impulse to fight for causes considered to be just. It can also lead to rebelliousness and unpredictability when the native is angered.

It is therefore perhaps rather telling that by the time of his involvement in the bombings, Tamerlan had already had a few family fall-outs, including being estranged from his American wife; along with run-ins with the law after being charged and tried for domestic abuse in 2009.[10] According to newspaper reports, his relatives described him as the black sheep of the family who “used his younger brother” and had fallen out with an uncle he called on the eve of his death.’[11]

On the day of the bombings, Tamerlan’s Libran Sun happened to be almost exactly opposite to the Sun-Mars conjunction in Aries we discussed earlier in the Event Chart; whilst his Mars was in mutual reception; and close to a sextile, with Uranus in Aries.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan’s younger brother, was born on 22 July 1993 in Tokmak, Kyrgyzstan (birth time is unknown) which makes him a Sun Cancer, though only just! Like his brother, Dzhokhar’s  Sun, in the late degrees of Cancer, also happens to be making a square to that very same Sun-Mars conjunction in Aries. Like his brother, he also has Pluto in Scorpio. However, the only aspect that natal Pluto makes is to Chiron, which, although intense and emotional, hinting at an unhappy childhood memories, suggests a more vulnerable side to his nature. Perhaps rather tellingly, his natal Mars, in helpful and meticulous Virgo, falls in the 12th house of the Event Chart (secret enemies).

Getting back to the Event Chart, if we are looking for a planetary signifier for the explosion, then we really need look no further than volatile Uranus in Aries. Not only does Tamerlan’s Mars in Aquarius happens to be in mutual reception to Uranus in Aries on the day of the bombings, but so is Dzhonkhar’s natal Saturn, which is also positioned in Aquarius. This Saturn also happens to make a sextile to that Sun-Mars conjunction in Aries.

Clearly, then these strong Mars/Aries themes suggest two angry, though somewhat impulsive young men with the potential to cause harm. But what actually tipped them over the edge?

Here we need to consider some important mundane aspects on the day of the bombings, the most significant of which is T-square involving the Moon in Cancer, along with Uranus and Pluto. This contact, which would have peaked later that evening at around 18h20 local time, may have been the fatal catalyst, activating the deadly potential of the Uranus-Pluto square.  The carries with it echoes of the cardinal T-Square of the London Riots that had Mars in Cancer squaring Uranus and opposing Pluto.  It is perhaps ironic but also rather chilling, that the bombs were made from household cooking utensils – pressure cookers – which fits with the very strong domestic nature of the Moon in Cancer. This placement also suggests a strong emotional connection to family and home. Ultimately, it could well be the case that Tamerlan’s growing sense of alienation from American culture and his own family, including his wife and child, combined with the absence of his parents, who moved back to the Soviet Union after they got divorced in 2011.[12]

It may therefore be significant that Tamerlan had a natal Moon-Saturn opposition, which may have left him feeling prone to feelings of abandonment and neglect with regards to loved ones, as well as low self-esteem. At the time of the bombings, Saturn in Scorpio had recently separated from a conjunction with Tamerlan’s natal Pluto, thus activating his natal square to Mars and leading to increasing feelings of anger and frustration. Friends and acquaintances said that in the past few months, he had been behaving erratically and becoming increasingly agitated and more radical in his adherence to Islamic principles, which seems to back this up.[13] Some attributed his actions to the unsolved murder of his friend, who was found murdered, along with two others, on September 11, 2011, on the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Whether he was involved or simply devastated by the injustice of what had occurred, we’ll probably never know now.

If we consider the broader picture of this particular event, we need to put the Moon-Uranus-Pluto T-square into context.  If we trace this aspect back to its roots, we return to the Cardinal Event of 2010 which peaked on August the 6th 2010 at around 11pm BST. During this rather momentous time, a grand cross in the early degrees of the cardinal signs was formed between the Moon in Cancer, Saturn in Libra, Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn. It was also around this time that we experienced two eclipses in Cancer and Capricorn on the 26th of June and the 11th of July respectively. If we were to hazard a guess at the true motivations for Tamerlan’s actions, it seems to me from an astrological point of view, that the seeds are likely to have been sown around this particular period. Remarkably, it was around this time, on 21 June of 2010, that Tamerlan got married.[14] The Moon in Cancer does suggest links to close females, so perhaps it was his separation from his wife and child some years later that finally tipped him over the edge?

Tamerlan died during a police chase on 18 April 2013. It is interesting to note that the lunar eclipse in Scorpio that took place just a week later (25  April) would have made a conjunction to his natal Pluto, thereby causing a surge of energy to his Pluto-Mars square.

During a lunar eclipse, the Sun causes the earth to cast a shadow onto the Moon, sometimes turning it blood-red. The Babyonians were terrified of lunar eclipses and hid their kings, sometimes putting a substitute on the throne during especially powerful events. There are hints in some of the accounts that this substitute may well have been ritually killed afterwards as a sacrifice to the gods to help nullify any bad omens. Given that Full Moons bring about endings of all kinds and that Pluto and Scorpio both carry overtones of death and transitions, the conjunction with his Mars-Pluto square does seem to suggest some form of final reckoning.

Would Tamerlan have been caught and imprisoned, giving him a chance to reform or redeem himself? Or is it indicative of his imminent mortality? Freud might have called his Mars-Pluto square the sign of an unconscious death wish. It certainly points to a tidal wave of anger and a

A deep-seated need for retribution. As it turned out, his misguided desire for vengeance or indeed, some form of salvation, appears to have turned back in on itself, ultimately leading to his demise.

Although his parents appear to be in denial about the involvement of their sons in such heinous acts of terrorism, and of course, no one can draw any conclusions until investigators finish their work (which includes proper questioning of the surviving Tsarnaev brother) it would appear from the astrology that they may well have carried out the Boston Bombings. The disillusioned and frustrated Tamerlan seems to have had an inordinate influence over his younger brother, who seemed to have so much going for him – a bright future as a medical student, popularity amongst his peers and the support of extended family. It is shame that he let the bitterness and extremist views of his brother take all this away from him.


[1] London Riots Timeline, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14436499

[2] Tetrabiblos, Book I Chapter XVII

[3] Tetrabiblos, Book I Chapter IV

[4] Tetrabiblos, Book I Chapter V

[5] Tetrabiblos, Book II, Chapter VIII

[7] Wikipedia, Boston Marathon bombings, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Marathon_bombings

[8] Profile: Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22219116

[10] Profile: Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22219116

[11] Older Boston bomber brother ‘manipulated’ his younger sibling and flipped when his ‘only American friend’ had his throat slit in unsolved murder , Daily Mail online, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2311686/Tamerlan-Tsarnaev-Manipulated-younger-sibling-flipped-American-friend-Brendan-Mess-throat-slit-unsolved-murder.html#ixzz2RgltMZ00

[13] Older Boston bomber brother ‘manipulated’ his younger sibling and flipped when his ‘only American friend’ had his throat slit in unsolved murder , Daily Mail online, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2311686/Tamerlan-Tsarnaev-Manipulated-younger-sibling-flipped-American-friend-Brendan-Mess-throat-slit-unsolved-murder.html#ixzz2RgltMZ00

[14] Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Wikipedia , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzhokhar_and_Tamerlan_Tsarnaev#2010


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