They say the pen is mightier than the sword. The powers that be have feared satirists for centuries, and there have been many attempts to bully them into silence. In the 18th century, Voltaire, who for a period had to live in exile in London, was one of the most famous, renowned for ridiculing the French king and Catholic Church. Charlie Hebdo, the Paris-based satirical magazine continues the same tradition, skewering religious fundamentalism and political power abuse.Politicians are generally well advised to take satire with good humor; otherwise they risk appearing even more ridiculous. Basically ordinary people take great pleasure in seeing politicians pulled down a peg or too, and to attack satirists is simply a vote loser. American presidents have taken this to heart and actually satirize themselves at the yearly White House correspondents’ dinner. It is not quite that way in Saudi Arabia where blogger Raif Badaw recently was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes, to be distributed 50 at a time every Friday, for ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s anachronistic absolute monarchy and religious authoritarianism. At the time of writing the second round of 50 lashes has been postponed until his health recovers from the first round.

Charlie Hebdo
The concept of freedom of speech is encapsulated by the arrival of Saturn in Sagittarius, which took place on December 23rd 2014. Sagittarius is linked to humor and publishing, and the big discussion taking place in January 2015, after the massacre of journalists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, is about what, if any, limitations there should be on humor and free speech. The surviving cartoonist Renald Luzier designed the subsequent front cover of the magazine, unapologetically drawing the prophet Mohamed, weeping, carrying a “Je suis Charlie” sign and the headline, rather beautifully, “All is forgiven”. Mohamed discouraged depictions of his person to avoid idolatry, but nowhere in the Koran did he suggest people be killed for doing it.

Instead of the normal 60,000 copies, seven million copies of this edition of the magazine have been printed, and sold out. That is the result of trying to brutally extinguish a cherished concept in western democracies. People took to the streets all over Europe – over a million in Paris alone arm in arm with political leaders from all over the world – in an outpouring of solidarity. People may hate being satirized, or be offended by the crude tone of some satire, but they will rise up in arms if satire is taken from them.

Astrological signatures for terrorism
Looking at the horoscope for the terrorist action of the two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, the concept of free speech is clearly illuminated.

Charlie Hebdo attack: January 7th, 2015. 11.24 Paris, France. (AS 19.14 PI)


At first glance the horror of this event is not exactly clear astrologically speaking, but drilling down into the planetary dynamics, it becomes so. Firstly it is interesting to see the conjunction of Mercury and Venus in Aquarius and the 11th house. This conjunction, sextile Saturn in Sagittarius, (which has “fallen” from the 9th house into the 8th house) shows the irreverent but committed idealism of the editorial staff, gathered as they were, for their Wednesday morning conference. (Renald Luzier overslept and did not make it to the meeting).

There is something extraordinary about Mercury in this chart. Theoretically it conjoins Venus – the orb is exactly one degree, and Mercury as a rule moves faster than Venus – but actually Mercury will turn retrograde, so it never actually makes the conjunction, and Venus pulls away. Mercury turns retrograde at 17 Aquarius, going direct again at 1 degree Aquarius. This means that it actually sextiles Saturn on the one side and Uranus on the other three times. And of course Mercury in Aquarius sextile Uranus in Aries could hardly be a better signature for freedom of speech. It is the zeitgeist of January and February 2015.

Also on the 11th house cusp is a Sun/Pluto conjunction, which is of course square Uranus… the main terrorism signature in the chart. The fact that the Uranus is about to conjoin the Moon’s node in Aries is another indication of extreme violence, which courses like an electric current through world affairs at this time. That aspect was enough in itself to pinpoint January 2015 as a time of tension and potential terrorism. The last time it happened was at the August 1999 solar eclipse.

Drilling down into the Sun/Pluto square Uranus/Node provides the key to the murderous attack. Mars at 26 Aquarius is actually at the midpoint and semisquare Uranus and Pluto. In fact, drilling deeper, the Mercury/Venus conjunction is at the midpoint and semi-semi-square the Pluto/Mars semisquare. It is a very tight and violent pattern revealed by midpoints and the 4th harmonic chart.

France and President Hollande
Why France should have been the scene for this attack is difficult to establish astrologically, but the Storming of the Bastille horoscope (note 2) and 5th Republic horoscope for France (note 3) both have an exact Sun/Mercury conjunction, which suggests how important the press and media is in that country. Also Venus in the Charlie Hebdo attack is at 4 degrees Aquarius in exact opposition to the Bastille Venus/Uranus conjunction, once again indicating the potency of this iconic horoscope for France and symbolizing its embrace of the enlightened values of freedom, brotherhood and equality.

Interestingly Francois Hollande has the Moon at 17 degrees Capricorn in the 9th house in opposition to Jupiter at 17 Cancer (and Uranus at 24 Cancer), and this does put the focus on publishing and freedom of speech. As Pluto will be conjoining his moon during the whole of 2017, it is quite likely that there will be pressure in this area for some time to come. (Note 4).

The ideology of terrorism
The whole idea of Uranus in Aries clashing with Pluto in Capricorn is connected with the freedom of the individual in conflict with authoritarian regimes. The unfortunate and paradoxical consequence of the attack on Charlie Hebdo is that intelligence agencies can now dust off extreme measures of counter surveillance in the name of fighting terrorism. Facebook accounts and Internet use can be monitored even more efficiently to identify budding jihadists, and with paranoia whipped up by the hungry media, the average citizen thinks it is worthwhile.

Over the last decade about 20 Americans have been killed by terrorism inside the United States, 13 of which were killed by army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan in 2009. Outside America about 160 Americans have been killed in terrorist incidents, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. This makes the chance of an American getting killed by terrorism one in 20 million in any five-year period. The chances of dying through lightning striking you are one in six million. (Note 1)

Bearing in mind that during the last historical period when Uranus in Aries was square Pluto (then in Cancer), which was from April 1932 to January 1934, Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany and was able to implement his racial profiling and persecution of Jews, it is clear that ideology tends to destroy perspective as a result of this aspect. Fascism was on the rise over the whole world at this time, leading to dictatorships in Germany, Italy, Spain and (communism/fascism) the Soviet Union.

Root causes of extremism
People are insecure; the financial crisis has created unemployment in Europe, and terrorism puts the nerves on edge. It is easy to associate terrorism with immigrant Muslim populations, but really there is no objective justification. Anders Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011 to save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in Oklahoma in 1995 as a protest of the liberalism of the federal government.

On the other hand, nobody likes seeing people beheaded. In the West at least. (In Mecca a Burmese woman was publicly beheaded this January, one of 7 people executed in Saudi Arabia in the first two weeks of 2015). The inhumanity of beheading is gruesomely illustrated by Islamic State masked executioners in their video portrayals of their American and British victims. This also expresses some of the energy of the Uranus/Pluto square, which has an inhuman quality and awakens the deepest anxiety amongst us. Whenever you see someone who is masked, you can be sure Pluto is at work.

Terrorism awakens strong reactions and a desire to take extreme countermeasures. This anxiety is the fuel which propels the success of far-right political organizations like the Front National in France, the National Democratic Party in Germany, the Danish People’s Party in Denmark, Golden Dawn in Greece, the Party for Freedom in Holland, Jobbik in Hungary, Austrian Freedom and Lega Nord in Italy.

Cherif Koachi
But perhaps the real problem is not religion, but inequality. The people traveling to Syria to fight are generally poor, disaffected young people, who are alienated from society. It is pretty exciting to get a gun and fight for a cause. The Kouachi brothers were orphaned at a young age, after their mother committed suicide. They lived in the immigrant ghettos on the outskirts of Paris, and Cherif ended up in prison arrested for attempting to travel abroad to fight US soldiers in Iraq. In prison he became further radicalized. The horoscope for Cherif, with a birth time authenticated by his birth certificate, reflects his appalling upbringing, fanatical idealism, and murderous tendencies.

Cherif Kouachi. November 29th 1982. 22.20 Paris, France (AS 17.06 LE)


He is born at the time of the Pluto/Saturn conjunction, which is in quite a close conjunction with his IC. His stellium in Sagittarius in the 4th and 5th houses, especially the Sun/Uranus conjunction shows a man drawn to extremist ideologies and the excitement of war games. He travelled to Yemen and received training. I am sure he was excellent at playing Call of Duty, and also that he enjoyed the company of fellow jihadists who believed in their cause.

The key planet in this chart is Mars, which is at 21 degrees Capricorn. The British astrologer Dennis Elwell established that an emphasis on the degrees 20-23 Cancer/Capricorn is often associated with mass murderers. (Note 5) Actually it is also associated with some famous thinkers like Marquis de Sade, Colin Wilson and J. B Watson – the founder of behaviorist psychology. What characterized Watson was his rejection of human qualities and a belief in studying humans as objects who simply react to stimuli. The idea is that human values do not have any objective validity, but of course, if there are no absolute values, then any terrible actions can be contemplated without realizing the enormity of the act.

In Cherif Kouachi’s case Mars is in Capricorn in the 6th house, which reveals his predilection for military training. At the time of the attack, this Mars had progressed to 17.01 Aquarius in exact conjunction with his Descendant at 17.06 Aquarius, and it was at this time he acted out his murderous tendencies. Interestingly his brother, Said, has his moon at precisely 17.18 Leo. (Note 6). Other correlations are the 5th Republic Chiron at 17 Aquarius in the 8th house, and Bastille Pluto at 18 Aquarius. Obviously this is a central area of pain and trauma for France.

As Saturn moves through Sagittarius, the whole idea of freedom of belief and religious fundamentalism will be in focus. There is no doubt that in the philosophical discussion between people arguing for sensitivity and restraint and those arguing for satire, satire will win. For Saturn is headed into a triple trine to Uranus, which will culminate during the whole of 2017, and there is no way people will accept limitations on freedom to express themselves exactly as they want.

Adrian Duncan. January 19th 2015.

1. These numbers come from Ronald Bailey, science correspondent for Reason magazine.

2. Storming of the Bastille: July 14th 1789. 10.30 a.m. Paris

3. 5th Republic: October 5th 1958. 0.00 Paris

4. Francois Hollande: August 12th 1954. 0.10 a.m. Rouen, France.

5. See “The Cosmic Loom”. Dennis Elwell 1987.

6. Said Kouchi born September 7th 1980 at 1.40 in Paris.