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Blog from Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | The War Comes Home

THE HYPOCRISY of paying special attention to a mass shooting in the United States is that for the most part, we ignore the same thing that happens many times a day in Iraq. Planet Waves participates. We have never once cast a chart for a suicide bombing in Baghdad. But when a student loses his mind and kills 32 of his university classmates and teachers, then himself, it is news.

Suffice it to say, the war came home yesterday. The violence we take for granted has special meaning when it arrives on one of our college campuses, places that (at least in our era of history) are always described as peaceful. This echoes the big turning point in the Vietnam War when the war came home in the form of supposedly unexplainable violence on our campuses, such as the Kent State massacre.

We are typically shocked and surprised when something like this happens. But are we really shocked or surprised, given what we see on TV every night? That is, every day, we witness news of suicide bombings that amount to little more than a Truthout email or mention on the 6 o'clock news. What we need to imagine is that for this one event on American soil there have been perhaps three or four thousand -- or more -- on Iraqi soil, each with its grieving families, its ripped-apart communities and its sense of life never being the same again.

If we can remember that, then we're saved from the self-centered tribalism that makes such an event in the United States supposedly more meaningful to us, or more emotionally poignant. It would in that case be meaningful only because it points to something larger than itself.

Looking at the chart, which is an Aries chart, Sun, Moon, Mercury and more, there is a clear illustration of the volatility of this sign. But with Mars (the ruler of Aries) in a conjunction with Pallas -- an asteroid that is about intelligence, planning and strategy -- it describes a highly calculated form of volatility and aggression, not unlike what we see military commanders or politicians doing on a daily basis. This doesn't seem to have been a moment of insanity; rather it's likely this crime was planned carefully, maybe for a long time. But as Mars in Pisces would suggest, it ultimately had an emotional motive.

The Moon was in its extreme waning phase at the time, which implies an ending and moment of closure of some kind. In Aries the explosiveness of the situation is highlighted, but it's like something went out with an uproar and may have, if we are fortunate, ended there. We may however ask whether we have something signifying the ending of a cycle of violence rather than the beginning of one. In any event, we need to ask what we want.

Ceres is certainly the reigning theme of the chart: a planet that specifically addresses grief and the loss of children, as well as the nourishment we offer others. At the moment of the first shooting, the Moon was exactly conjunct Ceres, noteworthy even without interpretation. The Moon's presence with a planet that is so closely associated with emotions and the loss of children signifies the emotional impact. Then at the moment of the New Moon today, Mercury was conjunct Ceres, which will bring the message to a more cognitive level.

Another Goddess, Vesta, makes a significant appearance, in the 8th house, a house often associated with death and the causes of death. Vesta often implies a sacrifice of some kind, in this case a human sacrifice. Currently very close to the Great Attractor at 15+ Sagittarius, this placement has impact that extends further and wider than we are aware. Though it is an unusually "large event" even by news standards -- this was the worst mass killing ever on an American college campus, and is said to be the worst rampage of its kind in American history -- it promises to have greater impact than we recognize now.

It's an up-close depiction of what is happening in many parts of the world, and unfortunately sometimes human consciousness requires an extreme situation to draw the curtain away from our eyes to all that we are in denial about.

On the theme of denial, Aries in this chart is focused in the 12th house, which is one of those places that is especially difficult to access and to grasp. The 12th represents the unknown; that which is too large to comprehend; and that which is polarized in a way we don't understand. What is that massive, vast, ubiquitous, incomprehensible thing?

Hmm, could it be fear? Could it be the sense of danger we live with, living on a planet in the reaches of space, with the resources running out and our leaders making war and profits -- where death often seems more real than love, but where both are so often pushed into the back of the mind?

Notably, the Moon had just moved through the now-developing Venus-Mars square, highlighting the aspect and the inner tension it signifies. The square is underlining the sexual frustration associated with all forms of violence. This is again illustrated with the asteroid Eros being the most elevated planet in the chart from among the approximately 80 we checked. It's likely to turn out that this is about some kind of heartbreak, at least on the level of a seemingly rational motive.

Huya on the 7th house -- the relationship angle -- suggests that this is about a loss of some kind, on the level of the motive, a loss that has now spread into the world. Huya, a planet just beyond Pluto, is associated with rites, rituals and offerings to the dead, and her presence exactly in an angle is ominous. "The Egyptians saw Huya as an underworld deity and great care was taken to offer her food and water in the tombs so she would not be forgotten," says Philip Sedgwick. Huya is suggesting we take a moment here and offer something to those who are lost -- a ritual that we would do well to practice every day.

Americans, or rather, the United States of America, has spent the past six years perpetrating and instigating nonstop war in the Middle East, as most of us have watched the "inevitable" with glazed-over eyes. We say nothing as the people we kill, or whose deaths we instigated, are portrayed as demons and criminals. Many still hold America's armed forces as "liberators," even though military deserters themselves are admitting to terrorism [see front page of Planet Waves for related story]. No matter whose estimates of the death toll you believe, it is a holocaust of unconscionable proportions, given how mystifying and grievous the loss of 32 students and faculty is. Painful as it is, we need to remember, and make the connections, and offer a little food, water, a candle, and perhaps a few flowers to those we did not know, but whose loss we surely feel -- and those whose loss we do not feel and cannot see.

CREDITS: Managing Editor: Priya Kale. Webmaster: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Proofreader and Fact checker: Sara Churchville. Horoscope Editor: Jessica Keet.

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