James Holmes, the Colorado “Dark Knight” Killer, is a Sagittarius Sun, Virgo Moon. (Chart) That’s a mutable (changeable) square combination, with its own set of challenges (judgementalism in particular), but nothing about the combination on its own predisposes a person to a particularly tragic life. It’s actually a great combination for success in academia as it combines the wide ranging intellectual horizons of a Sagittarius Sun with the analytical and methodical instincts of a Virgo Moon. The 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, for instance, is a Sagittarius Sun, Virgo Moon. (Chart) According to his Wikipedia entry, “Spinoza was one of the most important and original thinkers of the seventeenth century.” (Source)

Sagittarius Sun, Virgo Moon: Baruch Spinoza, 17th century philosopher

If there’s anything in Holmes’ chart that does point to the possibility of tragedy – although not necessarily on the scale of what has happened in Colorado – it’s a combination of a Moon/South Node conjunction in Virgo and a Mars/Pluto conjunction in Scorpio. There are other factors at play too (such as his Sun/Saturn conjunction), a quick Google search for “James Holmes astrology” will turn up other astrology sites providing their own insightful analysis of his chart.

Moon Conjunct the South Node in Virgo: Symbol of Emotions Conjunct Point of Karmic Past in the Sign of Discernment/Judgement

Moon (instincts) conjunct the North Node (destiny) is associated with a higher than average potential for fame and public appeal. Moon (instincts) conjunct the South Node (karmic past) is associated with being familiar with fame in past lies but also a higher than average potential for infamy in this life. The nature of the fame/infamy is determined by the conjunction’s sign and house placement. Astrologer Celeste Teal writes of Moon/South Node conjunctions in her book Lunar Nodes:

. . . there are often unavoidable difficult relationships with women . . . Getting the support of others does not come easily, thus they feel lonely . . . There are anxieties – some verging on paranoia or causing crippling fears. Many of these individuals are not comfortable dealing with crowds. Remembrances of difficult experiences working with the public from previous incarnations may inhibit them. If the impressions get away from them, there can be a fascination with occult practices of an unhealthy sort. In some cases, the South Node influences destroys the sensitivity of the Moon, bringing out a cruel and hurtful personality. (Source)

I don’t do medical astrology so I can’t say there’s a connection between Moon/South Node conjunctions and PTSD. It is, however, my sense a phenomenon vaguely like PTSD – “extreme stress” you might call it – is something to be aware of when there is a tight Moon/South Node conjunction in a chart. I’ve been keeping tabs on this pattern since noticing the chart for the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (aka “Delta Force”) has a tight Moon/South Node conjunction in Aries (the sign of war) opposed by Pluto (the plant of extremes). (Chart)

The short version: when you see a Moon/South Node conjunction you want to be aware of the possibility (emphasis on “possibility”) of distorted expressions in the behavior patterns associated with the sign/house the conjunction is in.

Before we get to the Moon/South Node conjunction in James Holmes’ chart, a few notable examples should help illustrate the potential low roads for this placement. Please keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of people with Moon/South Node conjunctions will not express them in a manner anywhere near as extreme as these examples:

The chart for the “My Lai” Massacre that took place on March 16th, 1968 has Moon conjunct the South Node in Libra, the sign most likely to be involved in balance of power issues. (Chart)

Chris Benoit, the wrestler who murdered his child and wife before hanging himself while suffering the long term affects of heavy drug use, has Moon conjunct the South Node in Scorpio, the sign of sex, death, and extremist behavior. (Chart)

Using its premier date as its date of birth, the television show Miami Vice – whose plot lines focused on murder, rape, and drug abuse – has Moon conjunct the South Node in Scorpio. (Chart)

Using its premier date as its date of birth, the original Rambo film – which was much more about a Vietnam veteran with PTSD than a “shoot ’em up” like the sequels – has Moon conjunct the South Node in Capricorn, the lunar placement most likely to experience crushing depression. (Chart)

Using the group’s establishment date as their date of birth, the chart for the Black Panther Party has Moon/Neptune/Mercury conjunct the South Node in Scorpio. (Chart)

Alfred Harmsworth, a British newspaper magnate who used his influence to get Britain into World War I – a war which ultimately wiped out an entire generation of young men – has Moon conjunct the South Node in Aries, the sign of warfare, “might makes right”, and excessive self-interest. (Chart)

Donald Trump, who has stated his Middle East policy would be simply to “take the oil”, has Moon conjunct the South Node in Sagittarius, the sign of bloviating know-it-alls and ill-conceived overseas crusades. (Chart)

The chart for the “Enabling Act”, the act which installed Adolf Hitler as the official dictator of Germany, does not have a Moon/South Node conjunction in Virgo like Holmes but it does have a Mars/Neptune/Jupiter/South Node conjunction in Virgo. (Chart) It was the first chart I thought of when I saw James Holmes’ chart. I can’t help but wonder if Virgo, at its most extreme low expression, is the sign of “ethnic cleansing”. The very concept itself takes everything we love about Virgo – efficiency, precision, cleanliness, discernment, extremely high standards, a desire for purity, etc. – and distorts these qualities into something horrifyingly cold hearted and sterile.

Emotional or sexual repression is not uncommonly an issue with Moon/South Node in Virgo. At its best Virgo takes a very discerning, holistic, and even sacred approach to sexuality. (Source) In the old days a person with a Virgo emphasis in their chart might have found work as a temple (sacred) prostitute. Today he or she might be that tantric yoga instructor or acupuncturist you consult with when attempting to optimize your body’s sexual circuitry. At it’s least harmonious expression, however, Virgo is the sign of repressive, guilt-loaded approaches to sexual and emotional fulfillment like those advocated by certain large religious organizations. We don’t know if there is a sexual motive to the Holmes’ shooting but it’s hard to believe that violence of this magnitude could occur without there being some connection to repressed/misused sexual energy.

So what do you do if you have a Moon/South Node conjunction in your chart or you are a parent and see one in the chart of your child? First, keep in mind that the examples in this article are extreme ones used for purposes of illustration. Then, as always, look to the North Node. Investments of time, energy, sweat, and heart into the North Node are the solutions to whatever challenges, complexes, and traumas are associated with the South Node. What if the Moon/South Node conjunction is in Virgo? Then it’s imperative the person is encouraged to make investments in Piscean endeavors: meditation, mysticism, painting, photography, dance, music, nature therapy, and anything involving the creative, imaginative, or compassionate faculties. Pisces is symbolized by two fishes swimming in the ocean so this video – which really is worth a view – will help explain the emotional state a Pisces North Node should be dissolving into better than anything I can write:

On a practical level, cleaning up the environment or working with wildlife rescue is a nice expression of this nodal axis as it combines the fixation on cleanliness of a Virgo Moon/South Node conjunction with the oceanic levels of compassion associated with a Pisces North Node.

Mars conjunct Pluto in Scorpio: Lord of War Meets the Lord of the Underworld in the Sign of the Hitman

Mars is the Lord of War. It represents how a person executes a plan. Pluto is the Lord of the Underworld. It represents where a person will behave obsessively. Contacts between the two planets have a notorious reputation in astrological circles. Michelle at AstroFix.net calls Mars/Pluto aspects “Killer Instincts” while astrologer Adrian Ross Duncan associates them with the theme of “Power and Powerlessness”:

. . . these people often get entangled with faceless, all-powerful authorities such as corporations, unions, the police, and tax authorities, as if their worst nightmares regarding powerlessness are fated to come true . . .

What works for Mars/Pluto people is to exercise real power in work that requires an element of ruthlessness or investigative abilities. What is cathartic for them to admit is that they are manipulative and play power games, re-enacting primitive survival scenarios without concern for others. (Source)

At its most extreme expression, this placement is associated with rape or situations that aren’t actual pe but feel like it on the emotional or psychic levels.

Holmes’ Mars/Pluto conjunction is particularly strong as it is in Scorpio, the sign of the Shaman and the Spy, the Hitman and the Detective, the Investment Banker and the Contract Killer, the Emotional Cryptographer and the Clandestine Encounter, the Criminal Deviant and the Depth Psychologist, the Covert Op and the Deep Cover Cop. Scorpio is co-ruled by Mars and Pluto so a Mars/Pluto conjunction in a sign ruled by Mars/Pluto is a really intense amount of Mars/Pluto energy for one person to handle sans serious and sustained shamanic mentoring.

To understand just how powerfully intense a Mars/Pluto conjunction in Scorpio can be, consider some examples: the 1991 film Cape Fear starring Robert Deniro as a serial killer has a Sun/Mars/Pluto conjunction in Scorpio in its chart. (Chart) Cho Seung Hu, the Virginia Tech killer, has a Mars/Pluto conjunction in Scorpio in his chart. (Chart) So too does the chart of Afghanistan, a country often referred to as “graveyard of empires”. (Chart)

Bradley Manning has a Mars/Pluto conjunction in Scorpio in his chart. (Chart) Mark Zuckerberg has both Mars and Pluto in Scorpio but the orb between them is technically too wide to be considered a conjunction in Western astrology. (Chart) (In the Vedic tradition, however, just having the two planets in the same sign would be enough to count.) Whether you feel either one has used the power of this aspect for good, for evil, for neither or for both is up to you. What is undeniable about both is that they’ve had radically disproportionate impacts on major parts of society, Manning on the military industrial complex and Zuckerberg on the information industrial complex.

So what do you do if you have a Mars/Pluto conjunction in your chart (in Scorpio or any other sign) or are a parent and see one in the chart of your child and want it expressed in as healthy a fashion as possible? Astrologer Sue Tompkins offers some recommendations that should be taken to heart:

The way to use this combination is for the individual to engage legitimately in something that, for them, does require superhuman effort.

Dance is sometimes a therapeutic activity for the Mars-Pluto person, for as well as requiring a great physical expenditure of energy it can also be quite sexually cathartic.

Music can also provide a vehicle for a tremendous release of emotion. Perhaps a double dose of Mars-type energy, as might be associated with Mars and Pluto, calls for a double dose of Venus: music, love, acceptance, and forgiveness. Expressions of love can do much to heal the scars of this combination. (Source)

While this aspect is more likely than others to be involved in matters requiring “superhuman efforts” or “sexual catharsis” it does not mean the native is doomed to a life of horrific tragedy. A few examples of people who have Mars/Pluto conjunctions in fixed signs (where the aspect is most potent) should help illustrate this.

Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II has a Mars/Pluto conjunction in Scorpio in his chart. (Chart) During his reign as emperor he abolished capital punishment, the first permanent abolition of the practice in modern times. Today there is a holiday called the “Cities for Life Day” celebrated by 300 cities around the globe to commemorate the abolition. He also managed to reform or eliminate a number of the ruinous practices implemented by the Medicis, the banking family that was to the 18th century what Goldman Sachs is to 21st. His North Node (destiny) is in Pisces (compassion), the same as James Holmes.

Bruce Lee and Sigourney Weaver both have Mars/Pluto aspects in fixed signs in their charts. Weaver’s is in Leo, the sign of the lioness who will fiercely defend her cubs against all threats. (Chart) Her role in the film Aliens that concludes with her defending a young child against a terrifyingly overpowering outside force is a good example of Mars/Pluto energies being effectively projected into the imaginal world of film:

As astrologer Ed Augusts has pointed out, a number of Weaver’s other roles such as that of environmentalist Dian Fossey fighting overwhelming odds in the 1988 film Gorillas in the Mist have also been effective projections of the Mars/Pluto aspect in her chart. (Source) Actress Susan Sarandon, best known for playing a woman who kills her rapist in the film Thelma and Louise, has a prominent Mars/Pluto aspect in her chart similar to the one in Weaver’s chart. (Chart) Many of the causes Sarandon has supported in real life – such as her very vocal opposition to the war in Iraq – have the energetic signature of a effectively expressing Mars/Pluto contact all over them as well.

I’ve noticed this placement present in the charts of a number of gymnastics and chess champions, which is not surprising given the superhuman levels of effort necessary to be a national or world champion at either endeavor.

As far as James Holmes: perhaps in the next life somebody will make sure he channels these energies into making incredibly powerful (Mars/Pluto) art or music (North Node in Pisces) or engaging in some legitimate political/social battle against the authorities (Mars/Pluto) on behalf of the dispossessed (North Node in Pisces) rather than the destructive road he was permitted to go down in this life.

One thing worth noting not directly connected to Holmes’ chart: the shooting took place less than 20 miles from where the Columbine high school shooting of 1999 took place. As Michael Moore pointed out in his film Bowling for Columbine, the area happens to be home to a network of large defense contractors that manufacture missiles intended to create death on a level that eclipses by orders of magnitude what Holmes did. Even the least conspiracy minded among us can’t help but wonder if there is some type of connection, if just on the psycho-spiritual level. Like fish swimming in a giant psychic ocean, we humans tend to absorb the emotional influences floating through the collective unconscious of our societies.

If you found this article of interest you might also be interested in:

Scorpio Sun, Sagittarius Moon: On a Quest Through the Valley of Death

Contact Matt Savinar for a Consultation

Copyright Matthew David Savinar 2012

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  • Pat S says:

    Great write-up on the main aspects in his chart! Kudos.

    I was born 10 days after Holmes, so I have some of the same aspects. Mars conjunct Pluto in Scorpio, though not as tight as his. It’s definitely an ever-present energy that you put out into the world if you have it, and I’ve known a few other people with it too. A “killer instinct” is correct!

    Sun conjunct Mercury, Saturn & Uranus also puts extra pressure on the weight/subjective importance of whatever you’re set on achieving (espec. with a loaded, obsessive Mars/Pluto conjunction.) It’s easy for me to assume his downward spiral & lack of focus in class set his mind off the tracks, espec. with the scholarship he had and graduating w/ Honors, etc… I have the same conjunctions, but also Sun/Neptune, which softens it some..

  • Pat S says:

    His Chiron is probably the most afflicted body in his chart. Square N&S Node & Moon, opposite Uranus, Saturn & Sun, and Inconjunct Venus. No easy outlets for healing…

  • Matt Savinar says:

    @Pat S
    If you go on astrotheme.com you can check out a bunch of folks born around the same time, lots of Mars/Pluto action and most turned out pretty decent thus far.

    The Moon/South Node is a tough one in the guy’s chart, I think a greatly underrated contact in terms of its importance.

  • Pat S says:

    I don’t want to give the impression I was throwing a blanket over us Mars/Pluto-Scorpio types! I’ve just noticed that it can take on a fairly prominent role in the personality of men who have it, like a sense of being the most powerful person in the room but probably the last one you would suspect!

    Your research into the Moon/S.Node conjunction is very interesting. My wife has this conjunction, though very wide at 9 degrees. S.Node(6th) & Moon(5th.) She has Mars in Pisces (11th) and N.Node in the 12th, and definitely channels her Piscean side a healthy amount, mostly through writing.