Woolwich Massacre & the April 2013 eclipses

May 2013 was dominated by several major planetary events: a series of Neptune squares on the 13th, 18th and 26th, which coincided with misjudgements and travel accidents; another pass of the rather challenging Uranus-Pluto square on May the 20th, which corresponded with a devastating tornado in Oklahoma and an outbreak of rioting and civil unrest in Sweden; as well as a second set of eclipses on the 10th and 25th, making for a total of three in the last two months.

Given the rather shocking murder of drummer Lee Rider on the 22nd of May, which comes in the wake of the Boston Bombings, I thought we should focus on the latter two phenomena as both seemed to resonate with what happened in Woolwich last month.

Woolwich Massacre – Why now?

Lee Rigby Manchester tribute.jpg

Lee Rigby Manchester tribute” © Donald Judge

The seemingly indiscriminate and brutal attack on an unsuspecting man who happened to be walking along a suburban road at 2pm on the afternoon of the 22nd of May 2013 [view event chart here- Woolwich massacre event chart] left British people shocked as to what could have motivated two men to run him over and then hack him to death in broad daylight in front of countless witnesses.

Later, it emerged that the victim, Lee Rigby, born July 1987 in Crumpsall near Manchester,[1] was a member of the armed forces, living in the nearby Woolwich Barracks who had been dressed in civilian clothing at the time. Many witnesses to the killing commented on how ‘random’ and unusual the whole event seemed. Although Woolwich has a large immigrant population, the usually peaceful riverside suburb of London had not been in the news since the 2011 London riots, and the UK government has not made any radical announcements or decisions about foreign policy or security recently.

So what could have prompted these rather bizarre and appalling murders?

On the macro-cosmic level, there was a Uranus-Pluto square on May the 20th, which coincided with an outbreak of rioting in Sweden that lasted for nearly five days. Many of the rioters were thought to be disillusioned and marginalised immigrant youths, many descended from first generation immigrants from war-torn countries such as Iraq, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Syria who had sought asylum in Sweden. According news reports,

In the affected areas themselves, some people say the riots are a response to discrimination and relatively high unemployment. Sweden, once a by-word for equality, has seen a widening gap between rich and poor…” [2]

This view seems to be backed up Gulan Avci, Swedish MP for the Stockholm suburb of Bredang, who claimed that, much like the deprived area of Tottenham, where the London riots began in 2011, the unrest in Sweden could be attributed to a mixture of criminality and disillusionment amongst young people from areas of high unemployment, a situation that was exacerbated by poor integration and school results.[3] Interestingly, Sweden experienced similar unrest in June of 2010[4], which does suggest links with the themes constellated around the time of the Cardinal Grand Cross that took place over the summer of 2010, and which I wrote about last month.[5]

Elsewhere in Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan had to declare a state of emergency in the north-eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, due to increasing attacks on civilians from Islamic militant group, Boko Haram. The extremist group, which many fear has links to Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant groups[6], made headlines back in February when they kidnapped a French family who were on holiday just across the border in neighbouring Cameroon.[7] They are also thought to be behind the so-called Christmas Day bombings in Abuja and Damaturu in 2011, a series of explosions timed around the inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan in May 2011, along with the bombing of police and UN headquarters in Abuja later the same year. What is noteworthy for our purposes is the fact that the group also claimed responsibility for an attack on a military barracks in Abuja on New Year’s Eve, 2010[8] – could there be a connection to the Woolwich murders, which took place just outside the Royal Artillery Barracks, just across the road from Woolwich Common?

Media reports suggest that as many as 2,000 people have died in terror-related incidents in Nigeria since Boko Haram launched its insurgency campaign in 2009 with the aim of creating an Islamic state.[9] Of course, given the country’s vast oil and natural gas reserves, one can only speculate as to the group’s true motivations for wanting to overthrow the government.

On a micro-cosmic level, residents of Woolwich and local law enforcement officers claim that one of the perpetrators, Michael Adebolajo, a 28 year old Londoner of Nigerian descent, was known to police and MI5 as a convert to a radical form of Islam. Locals painted him as a ‘local firebrand,’ a confrontational and angry young man who helped out with the running of a stall thought to be funded by the banned Islamist group, al-Muhajiroun, headed up by Omar Bakri Mohammed, where he handed out extremist literature and made a nuisance of himself agitating about British involvement in foreign wars.[10] It has also emerged since the attack that he was arrested at the border with Somalia and deported by the Kenyans on suspicion that he was attempting to join the ranks, or receive training from, al-Shabaab, a Somali terrorist organisation with links to al-Quaeda. Given the closes association of Uranus in Aries with militant youth movements and youth protests, it is interesting that ‘Al-Shabaab’ is Arabic for “the Youth.” [11]

Adebolajo, who was filmed preaching and making fanatical statements about Islam and Britain’s with bloodied hands, is reported to have been born on the 10th of December 1987 in Lambeth, (you can view a noon chart for Michael Adebolajo – because we do not have a birth time, we cannot accurately calculate house divisions – only planetary aspects) which gives us some opportunity to look at his natal transits in relation to the day of the killing: 2pm in Woolwich, London on the 22nd of May 2013.

A cursory glance of his natal chart reveals that Adebolajo has a Sun-Uranus conjunction in Sagittarius. This in itself, tells us volumes.

Firstly, having a natal Sun-Uranus conjunction natally can make someone rebellious, wilful and potentially disruptive by nature – certainly someone who marches to their own tune and will refuse to conform if he or she disagrees with social conventions and/or established views. Like Sun Aquarians, people with a Sun-Uranus coupling are often drawn to politics and humanitarian causes. Adding to this mix is a Sun-Mars sextile.  Mars is in Aquarius, which would intensify the Uranian energy in Michael’s chart, but could also add an aggressive, crusader-like aspect to the way this impulse is expressed. Certainly, this is someone who likes to practise what he preaches, so to speak. The influence of Mars on his Sun-Uranus conjunction could explain why Michael is so confrontational when it comes to issues he feels passionate about and why for him, talking and not acting would never be enough.[12]

He also has Pluto in vengeful, sometimes cruel Scorpio square to Venus in Aquarius, together with an afflicted Jupiter (in fall in Capricorn and opposing his natal Moon in Cancer), suggesting a difficult relationship with one of his parents and an inability to practice moderation when it comes to his beliefs, values and desires. Coupled with this is the fact that both planets are in philosophical but also potentially dogmatic Sagittarius, and you can see why Adebolajo became a religious zealot who felt justified in killing for his beliefs.

His words, spoken in the aftermath of the killing via a video which he asked a bystander to film on their mobile phone, has all the hallmarks of these planetary signatures:

“The only reason we killed this man … is because Muslims are dying daily,” adding, “This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”[13]

Here, it is worth commenting that Michael, or Mujahid (which means ‘one who engages in jihad’[14]) as he prefers to be known, also has an out of sign conjunction between his natal Mercury and Neptune. This could result in someone who is sensitive and compassionate, on one hand, but also quite intellectually open and susceptible to suggestion, especially with regards to spiritual concepts and ideas, which might make him an easy recruit for radical clerics and preachers. Neptune can also blur boundaries, and in this case, it could affect those faculties associated with Mercury (i.e. intellect, ideas and self-expression) including his judgement, making it difficult for him to distinguish between reality and fantasy. In the end, it may have been this mixture of idealism and lack of discrimination that proved to be his downfall.

But why did he choose to act when he did?

Enter a few key transits in the form of a Uranus-Pluto square, the lunar eclipse in Gemini-Sagittarius and a whole host of conjunctions involving Jupiter, Mercury and Venus in Gemini.

Let’s look at each in sequential order.

Firstly, the Uranus Pluto square which took place on May the 20th. By itself, this has been associated with popular uprisings, especially amongst the youth. In the case of Adebolajo, both transiting planets come within orb of a T-square to his natal Moon in Cancer, which might have set off his natal Jupiter opposition. This configuration is likely to have made him very emotional with regards to the laws and cultural mores of his homeland, i.e. Britain, which hints at some type of catalysing event, possibly a difference of opinion with one of his parents, his mother in particular. This whole configuration is likely to have become activated by the transiting Moon in Libra, which would have squared the transiting Uranus-Pluto square shortly before squaring his natal Cancer Moon at around 6pm the day before the attack (21 May). The Moon would then have gone on to square his natal Jupiter a few hours later.

In addition to that, at the time of the attack,  transiting Mercury, which was travelling very close to Venus in Gemini, made an exact opposition to Adebolajo’s natal Sun-Uranus conjunction. This would certainly have awoken in him a need to take action. Possibly he heard, saw or read something in the news media or simply made a decision that now was the time to act, and in a typically Uranian fashion, went with this sudden impulse.

Mercury and Venus are particularly important to this story for another reason: their position all week in Gemini, travelling close to the Sun, meant that they become the sort of messengers or harbingers of the themes that were activated along the Gemini-Sagittarius axis at the time of the eclipse on 25 May. As I have explained elsewhere, lunar eclipses always occur at Full Moon when the Sun and Moon oppose each other from across the zodiac, so in effect, two sets of zodiac signs become activated. In this case, the Gemini-Sagittarius axis is very much concerned with religious beliefs, the transmission of both facts and opinions, the law, self-expression, as well as travel, both local (Gemini) and foreign (Sagittarius). These were all issues raised as a result of the murders and from an astrological point of view, seem important in this particular story.

But why choose violence? Why not publish something or make a public speech? The answer to this must surely lie with Mars. As I pointed out in last month’s blog, Mars can be very violent and is the sign most associated with knives, butchery, surgery, the military and war. At the time of the attack [view Adebolajo’s transits at the time of the attack], not only was Adebolajo’s natal Mars activated via the Mercury-Uranus opposition, but his natal Mars-Saturn square was also triggered by, surprise surprise, transiting Mars in Taurus, which just so happened to be opposing Michael’s natal Saturn in Scorpio. Scorpio is the sign par excellence of retribution and cold-bloodedness and as the former ruler of Scorpio, Mars is very much associated with pestilence and death. Before the discovery of Pluto and the other ‘trans-Neptunian’ planets, both Mars and Saturn were traditionally considered to be the most malefic planets in the astrological ‘pantheon’. Having them combine in the signs most associated with death and destruction in the chart of a machete-wielding murderer is therefore, fairly fitting from a symbolic point of view.

The eclipse itself brought to an end a six month cycle relating to religious beliefs, ethical issues and matters relating to the law and foreign policy, so hopefully this indicates that there will be no further such incidents in Britain for the foreseeable future. At the very least, it seems to offer some hope that the recent cycle of killings by home-grown ‘DIY’ jihadists such as the Boston Bombers, and now Adebelajo and his accomplice, Michael Adebowale, should taper off in the near future. Having been caught alive, these angry young men will now have to face up to the consequences of their actions, which could act as a deterrent to any other would-be terrorists. Hopefully the prospect of getting life imprisonment, as opposed to dying at the scene of the crime, may prove food for thought…

By the same token, let us hope that the media will exercise more circumspection and a more measured response to this crime, not giving over large amounts of airtime to extremist groups such as al-Muhajiroun or, on the opposite side of the camp, racist bigots and fascist groups such as the English Defence League, who will try to use this incident to further their cause and get some PR, or worse, justify a spate of hate crimes. If there is one thing the UK has learnt from the last set of Uranus-Pluto squares and the Hatton enquiry, it is that the press and news media needs to be more responsible in terms of their reporting style and what Margaret Thatcher called ‘the oxygen of publicity’. Popular pressure groups such as 38 degrees are urging the public to stand together and use platforms such as social media to express the majority view, which is much more moderate than many of these fringe groups, and is less about hate and intolerance and more about humanity and integration. Many of these groups have come about because of a lack of honest public debate or robust education about these issues, which are by their nature, touchy and controversial. 

Let’s hope that politicians, educators and the media will learn from this and generate more open and frank but responsible discussions about the topic so that people feel they have other avenues through which to work out their anger, ignorance or frustrations, thereby getting the opportunity to test the validity of their views against public opinion whilst also learning more about tolerance via encounters with a range of people with differing views, rather than breeding another Anders Breivik, who incidentally, carried out his attack around  the time of  the Uranus-Pluto squares in July 2011.[15]

If this interview with the Home Secretary, Theresa May, is anything to go by, then the debate already seems to be underway.[16] Similar discussions were also had on Channel 4 news, as well as an article in the Daily Mail. [17]

A note on the Mercury-Venus-Jupiter conjunction

I thought I should just make a comment here about the Mercury-Venus-Jupiter conjunctions for the sake of clarity. I should emphasise that conjunctions are considered to be neutral aspects, which have the potential to go either way when it comes to outcomes and planetary influences. Much depends on the sign the conjunction takes place in, and the planets involved – whether they are malefic or benefic, whether the planets concerned are dignified or debilitated in that particular sign, and if any other aspects feed into the conjunction.

For example, on Friday the 24th, the day when the Mercury-Venus conjunction peaked in Gemini, we heard two completely different but related stories in the news:

The first was the announcement by the BBC that they would be shelving a £100 million long-term IT project because it was costing too much money and had no hope of ever becoming viable or fully operational.[18] Whilst an enquiry will now look into exactly why so much tax-payers’ money was wasted on a project that had no guarantee of coming off,   those close to the project cited over-arching ambition and rapidly changing technology as the main reasons for the failure of the project.[19] Gemini as a sign, and Mercury as a planet, are both very much associated with IT equipment and the media, whilst Venus can be associated with money, making this announcement seem very much an expression of this conjunction. The fact that ‘overarching ambition’ was cited as a major reason for the massive over-spend also has the ring of Jupiter about it. Both planets were within orb of a conjunction to Jupiter at the time. Jupiter can inflate and amplify, and when afflicted, can lead to mania, arrogance, condescension and delusions of grandeur.  It also happens to be detrimented in Gemini.  In 2008, when the project got underway, Jupiter happened to be in Capricorn, the sign of its fall, which doesn’t offer much hope of a positive outcome.

The second announcement, on the other hand, involved a very large cash win for one lucky listener who won £125K on live radio for guessing the correct name of a celebrity in an on-air competition.[20] A week later, one the 28th of May, one lucky UK household also won a rather substantial lottery prize of  £81 million. [21] These then, were rather positive expressions of Venus (money) + Mercury (radio/TV draw) + Jupiter (luck/large prizes).

So, how to tell whether the outcome is likely to be good or bad for you? The most important thing when needs to remember when trying to determine how a transiting conjunction might affect you personally is to look at whether the conjunction contacts anything in your  natal chart. You need to use a much smaller orb than you would for a natal chart – 2-3 degrees on either side at most. If it does, then look at the house where it falls to find out which area of your life is likely to be affected, and then determine whether the aspect made between the conjunction and your planet or chart phenomenon  is positive (trine, sextile), neutral (conjunction, quincunx) or negative (square or opposition). Usually, the way that the natal planet works in your own chart will also give you a clue as to how this particular influence may manifest in your life.


[11] Independent News, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/woolwich-attack-terror-suspect-michael-adebolajo-was-arrested-in-kenya-on-suspicion-of-being-at-centre-of-alqaidainspired-plot-8632398.html; According to the article, ‘His family claimed he was held in detention and tortured before being deported back to Britain without charge.’ See also Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Shabaab_militant_group

[12] See what his friend says of him: CNN.com, http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/24/world/europe/uk-woolwich-michael-adebolajo/?hpt=hp_c1 especially the section with the sub-title: ‘Ex-associate: May have been tired of ‘no action’


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