My friend asked me “what is the astrological makeup of a criminal like James Holmes?” It is a good question and it does make one ponder about what on earth would drive a 24 year old neuroscientist in a PhD program from a reputable university to strategically plan a shooting in a theatre playing a Batman movie? Holmes does not fit into the typical stats of a criminal. However neither his personality nor his astrological profile is as pristine, as we know now that James Holmes was suffering from a mental health disorder most probably schizophrenia and was seeing a psychiatrist. I think what is really surprising is his ability to mask his mental health issues and to cope with the demands of being a student in a neuroscience graduate program. On the other hand, was this shooting the result of his inability to cope any longer?
James Holmes has a Sagittarian Sun, with a Virgo Moon and Leo Ascendant. On observing his natal chart, there are certain factors that immediately come to the forefront. There are usually multiple factors in a chart that contribute to a problem. The following are some that standout:
Mars Pluto Conjunction on an Angle with a square to Black Moon: Mars Pluto conjunction is frequently observed in charts of those that have been abused and victimized or/and those who express violence and aggression. Here the dynamic energy of Mars takes on a plutonian filter and can be expressed in a dark, negative, deep, and intense manner. In Greek mythology, Pluto was the God of the underworld and astrologically Pluto’s goal is to push to the surface from our dark creepy attic all that which needs to be transformed. Hence people with this aspect have an excess of intense energy that needs to be focused in a rather obsessive manner. There needs to be a positive outlet devoid of which the energy can turn negative. James Holmes had the Mars Pluto conjunction in Scorpio which further intensifies the energy, as Pluto is the ruler of Scorpio. This conjunction was smack on an angle, conjunct IC which makes this aspect more personal for him. IC is his family, childhood, emotions, his roots, and having a Mars Pluto conjunction here points to violence/fear experienced or observed in childhood. If this is not enough, he has the Mars Pluto conjunction exactly square the Black Moon Lilith which is a raw powerful energy with the need to seduce and control. All of us have Lilith in us, but it expressed strongly in a chart when conjunct an angle. Also, his Mars Pluto conjunction is sextile Neptune providing an outlet for his intense dark energy through fantasy and imagination. He may have also used music or spirituality as outlets, but not many details of his others interests are known at this point. Interestingly, Seung-Hui Cho who carried out the shootings at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007 also has the Mars Pluto conjunction in Scorpio, and Osama Bin Laden has Mars Square Pluto. Please note that Mars Pluto aspects can also be channeled in a very positive manner.
Moon and South Node Conjunction: Moon is the main planet related to emotions, instincts and intuition. James Holmes has his moon in Virgo conjunct South Node. I’ve seen that with any planet associated with South Node there is a degree of undoing, as the planet can be expressed in a negative destructive manner. It often points to an issue that developed during past life or in childhood. Moon conjunct south node indicates that James Holmes did not have an emotionally stable childhood; there were issues with feeling safe and protected. This was a point of undoing for him.
Badly aspected Moon with square to Chiron, Saturn, Uranus and Sun: Moon is the most personal planet and the placement and aspects of the moon can throw light on whether a person is prone to depression, mood swings, paranoia, etc. A well placed moon with good aspects indicates an emotionally stable person. With all these squares to his moon, Mr. Holmes was probably under a lot of stress. It’s like having a perpetual emotional volcano that can rise up any time. Although he wore a normal mask in front of people, underneath this demeanor, his emotions were mixed with pain (square to Chiron), feelings of loneliness and separation (square to Saturn), changeable and erratic (square to Uranus), and a sensitive ego (square to Sun). There is always the underlying tension (square) between wanting to feel safe (Moon) and not feeling loved and accepted by others (moon square to planets in the 5thand 11th house). With such a badly aspected Moon, there is no doubt this person was struggling to keep his emotions under control.
Few Soft Aspects in the Natal Chart: Soft aspects like trines and sextiles are a blessing from the Universe because they show outlets and support systems that are helpful in life. James Holmes has few soft aspects as compared to hard aspects in his natal chart. Hard aspects build character and they also help manifest (both good and bad), but it is easier to handle the tension of hard aspects when one has soft aspects to counterbalance them. Unfortunately, the Moon in Holmes chart did not have any easy outlets except for a trine to Venus which is probably why he came across as a well adjusted person to most people. Also, I noticed that the planet for healing, Chiron did not have any soft aspects (support system) which means it is hard for him to find a way to heal himself when under stress. I also have hard aspects to my Chiron but I do have a trine to Neptune and my spiritual beliefs have been the greatest help all through my life.
So what happened that triggered this event? The most beneficial aspect in James Holmes chart is the grand trine between his Jupiter, Ascendant and all the planets in the Sagittarius 5th house. With many planets in the 5th house he undoubtedly had a lot of creative energy and with the trine to Jupiter in the 9th house, and he was able to channel his creativity through higher studies. He has five planets in the 5th house (Mercury, Sun, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) and hence this trine plays a big role in his life to counterbalance the tension from his squares. However, we are all amidst a turbulent square transit between Uranus (in Aries) and Pluto (Capricorn) which formed a t-square with Mars just few days before the shooting and triggered his Neptune in Capricorn (7 degrees). So James Holmes Neptune was the apex of the t-square conjuncted by Pluto and squared by Uranus and Mars. To read more on the square between Uranus and Pluto, check out the article on Uranus Pluto square in 2012. For someone suffering from Schizophrenia, the transit to Neptune may have intensified his delusions and paranoia and he may have suddenly dropped out of his PhD program. With this decision, out went his main outlet (his higher studies) leaving him to deal with the stress of his many squares added to the heightened delusion from the triggered Neptune. Since his Mars Pluto conjunction is sextile Neptune, he may always have had fantasies of a dark nature.
Based on James Holmes chart and transits happening during the time of shooting, he expressed his delusions and fantasy through the intense Mars Pluto conjunction in Scorpio and through the karmic undoing of the Moon South Node conjunction. Neptune also rules fantasy, movies, drama and basically all the virtual world and it is interesting that he decided to carry out his shooting in a movie theatre.
Additional information on Midpoints: Midpoints are important in predictive astrology as one can find important pointers to the nature of the event. I mentioned before that with his Mars-Pluto (square Lilith) conjunction sextile Neptune, James Holmes may use delusion and fantasy to express his intense dark energy. His natal Mars-Pluto = Sun/Moon (deep core values)=Saturn /Moon (depression) which means that James Holmes’s Mars-Pluto-Lilith (intense compulsive energy) is a way of expressing his depression and separation from others and his core values.
In looking at his solar arc chart for the day of the shooting, the Mars-Pluto conjunction has moved to the longitude (with maximum orb of 1.5 deg) of his natal Mars-Uranus, Pluto-Uranus and Mars-Saturn midpoint. So for the event, Solar Arc Mars-Pluto (conjunction) = Natal Mars-Uranus (sudden violence) = Pluto Uranus (Major Crisis) = Mars-Saturn (separation). So now not only his Mars Pluto was a way of expressing his separation and sadness but also triggered the Mars-Uranus midpoint which has been shown in many cases to relate to violence. Also, his Solar Arc Uranus = Mars/Aries (violence that becomes public in a big way). Interestingly, the transit chart for the day of shooting shows that transiting Mars/Uranus midpoint = transiting Pluto and guess what – this Pluto was conjunct his natal Neptune. So it’s not as simple as saying that transiting Pluto triggered James Holmes’s Neptune on the day of the killing but what kind of energy did the transiting Pluto hold? It was at the midpoint of Mars and Uranus and hence was holding the signature of violence when it triggered the natal Neptune. This is again another reason why it is important to look at midpoints. Also, in looking at his solar return chart for the year, Solar Return Sun= Mars/Uranus midpoint.
Hence, there were many factors not only in his transit chart but also in his solar arc chart and solar return chart that repeatedly pointed to violence.