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Details of the sniper killings & profiles of the killers are available online at the BBC website.

John Allen Muhammad

John Lee Malvo

Horoscope data:
J. A. Muhammad
31 Dec 1960
6:12 AM CST (+6hrs)
New Orleans, Louisana, USA.
90w04, 29n57
source: birth certificate

The Nativity of John Allen Muhammed by Robert Corre

John Allen Muhammad, known as John Allen Williams before he converted to Islam some years ago, has been sentenced to death for his involvement in the sting of sniper killings that terrorised Washington during October 2002. He was arrested at 3:30 am on 24 October alongside his 17-year-old stepson and accomplice, John Lee Malvo. Astrologer Robert Corre's enlighening review of his horoscope considers how tense and poorly expressed astrological factors reveal a potential for destructive hostility.

It is an unfortunate fact that we often learn a lot of astrology when we study the horoscopes of those who has caused or have undergone great tragedy and suffering. Such is the case with the chart of the accused sniper, John Allen Muhammad.

Muhammad's chart is a casebook study of the tremendous misfortune that can be brought by the malefic planets, Saturn and Mars when they take over and overwhelm the horizon, the axis connected with human relationships.

As the Rising Sign or the Ascendant represents the physical life and mental predisposition of an individual, interpretation of a chart always starts with an analysis of the Ascendant, its ruler, and then aspects to the Ascendant and the ruler of the Ascendant. A complete analysis of a horoscope repeats the same systematic steps for the Midheaven, the Moon, and the Sun, but the following comments are limited to an analysis of the Ascendant.

According to this method as developed by Morin de Villefranche, the 17th century French astrologer and expanded upon by the late Zoltan Mason of New York, the analysis of the Ascendant is as follows: Of itself, a Sagittarius Ascendant gives a person a strong drive for freedom, a love of travel and learning, a naturally optimistic tolerant disposition, and an ethical disposition with a belief that God is for all of us. This is our first image of the person, which is very nice. We also know that how a zodiacal sign functions is modified by the ruler of that sign. Thus, as Jupiter is the ruler of the Ascendant, his self-image and reaction to the environment is modified by Jupiter's house position and sign position.

While Jupiter posited in an angular house is strongly placed, we do find Jupiter in Capricorn, the sign where it is said to be in the planetary dignity called "Fall". When a planet is placed in the sign where it is in Fall, the planet shows the powerlessness of a situation. When a planet is posited in the sign of its Fall, it means that the sign does not permit the planet's basic nature to come out. As Jupiter is in Capricorn, a sign belonging to Saturn, it means that Saturn does not permit the qualities of optimism, trust, and drive for freedom that we usually associate with Jupiter to come out. This placement of Jupiter in Capricorn makes the person feel pessimistic, bound to necessity, and have loss of belief. But this is only half the answer as there is a reciprocal relationship that exists between a planet and a sign. Jupiter because of its basic nature, is not able to realize the drives of Capricorn. Unlike Saturn's nature, Jupiter - the ruler of Sagittarius - is not necessarily single-minded, nor will it drive for security at all costs, or adopt the attitude that "ends justify the means". Thus, when a planet is in its Fall, both that planet and the planet that rules the sign in which it is placed are harmed. This is what is meant by the helplessness of Jupiter in Capricorn, the sign in which it is in Fall. And as Morin points out in his 21st Book (Astrosynthesis), when the ruler of the 1st or 10th houses are in a bad zodiacal state, "a very harmful influence falls on the meanings of those vitally important houses".

This does not mean that those with Jupiter in Capricorn as the ruler of their Ascendant will cause such heinous acts. This consideration alone is not by any stretch of the imagination close to giving a full and rational explanation to the horrible suffering that he is accused of causing.

Morin stressed the primacy of the Ascendant, yet there can be one consideration that does compete for this fundamental importance in a horoscope, and that would be a so-called stellium, that is the presence of 4 or more planets in a given sign. While Mumammad does have Sagittarius rising, we see that four planets, Mercury, Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn are placed in Capricorn.

We know that Capricorn is completely opposite in nature and motivation to Sagittarius just as there are the numerous differences between their respective rulers. Capricorn's ruler Saturn is a pessimist, Jupiter is an optimist; Saturn goes by necessity, Jupiter goes by ethics. Saturn feels the hopelessness and futility in life, Jupiter is full of hope. Saturn creates differences and isolates itself from others, Jupiter resolves differences and assimilates and merges with others. Jupiter is a believer in a higher order while Saturn trusts only what it can hold in its own hand.

Saturn lives by fear and expresses the most basic need common to all living things, the drive to survive which means every person must have some influence of Saturn. Without it, there is no foresight, no planning for the future, and no drive for material security to survive. But too much Saturn destroys. It takes away from self-confidence, immobilizes a person through anxiety, and creates an exaggerated fear of the environment.

In a horoscope a person identifies most intimately and doggedly with the planet that rules the Ascendant. In Muhammad's case, this planet is Jupiter and because of its relationship with the overarching presence of Saturn, Jupiter cannot as a consequence function normally. Saturn by its overwhelming influence destroys the character and peace of mind of this man, as represented by Jupiter. Of itself, no planet destroys; what destroys is exaggeration. As we proceed with a systematic analysis of the Ascendant, we see again and again, the repeated importance of the malefic planets on the life of this man.

The image we have so far from our analysis is of a person who has feelings of helplessness through Jupiter's position in Capricorn, the sign of its Fall and of a person with a exaggerated fear for his own survival through the predominant presence of Saturn. But again, these considerations alone are not enough to give a rational explanation of his actions.

We know the Ascendant represents the character and persona of an individual and the 10th House represents the realization of the person's efforts in the outside world, expressed as the career and social standing in the community. Opposed to the 1st and the 10th are the two other angular houses, the 7th and the 4th Houses that represent the environment. One fundamental meaning of the 7th House is other people or the public in general while a basic meaning of the 4th House is the childhood environment. Mars's position in Muhammad's 7th House is traditionally not considered fortunate. But this is no ordinary Mars. It represents a key factor in understanding both the man and his actions and may be cited when giving a rational explanation to this tragedy.

Like Jupiter, Mars is strongly placed in an angular house, and like Jupiter, it is also found in the sign of its Fall, Cancer. Mars is thus said to be in a bad zodiacal state. Unlike Jupiter that we call a benefic planet, Mars is said to be a malefic. So in his chart, Mars a malefic planet is of a bad quality. The fundamental quality of Mars is blind, unintelligent force and like Saturn, is needed for the sake of survival. To survive in life, the use of an acceptable amount of force is required. But again, what destroys is exaggeration. Exaggeration can be seen in a chart as either "too much" or "too little" of a particular planetary influence.

When a planet is in dishonor, (as when it is in its Detriment or Fall), we do not see the loss of the basic qualities of that planet as some modern books on astrology claim; rather, we see an unreasonable pushing of the planet's basic nature. In the case of Mars, the courage, valor, confidence, strength, and directness of a good Mars turns when in a bad zodiacal state to bragging, wickedness, violence, rape, slaughter, rage, and murder.

According to Morin, when a malefic planet is in a bad zodiacal state in a fortunate house, it destroys any of the benefits to be derived from that house and causes the affairs of the house to become a source of unhappiness. Thus we can see that his 7th house, a house that we connect with helpful partners or those who would cooperate with us does not exist for Muhammad. There is also another traditional meaning for the 7th House - Open enemies. In a general way, the one who openly defies you, who refuses to cooperate with you is an open enemy. Thus this saturnine man confronts an environment that is not seen by him as peaceful. Rather, it is seen as hostile.

But what about the 4th House, the house connected with the childhood environment? We see that there are no planets in the 4th House. It doesn't mean that this house is not important. If there are no planets in a house, we observe the sign on the cusp of the house and ask what planet rules that sign. This planet is said to be the ruler of that house and if we analyze the nature, sign position and house position of the ruler of the house under consideration, we will understand if the affairs of the house are a source of happiness or not. As we know Mars is the ruler of Aries, we know automatically, that his childhood was unfortunate and violent based on our previous analysis of Mars.

As Mars, ruler of the 4th is in the 7th House, we can make two additional comments. First the ruler of the 4th House, an angular house is placed in the 7th House, also an angular house. Thus the affairs of his childhood have had an enormous influence on him. By combining the meanings of the 4th House with the 7th, we can say that from childhood onwards, his experience of the world has been connected with violence and misfortune.

The touchiness and sensitivity of his persona through the harm brought by Saturn to Jupiter combined with the continual lifelong exposure to an unfriendly environment setup the basis for this tragedy. We should now take a closer look at the quadruple conjunction of the planets in Capricorn and in particular, the Sun. If there is one planet that cannot tolerate criticism or being pushed, it is the Sun. If you hit it or hurt it, the Sun will take its revenge.

We see that there is a very close opposition of Mars - a planet that by nature pushes others - to the Sun - the planetary body that does not move. The Sun is the center; it stands still. Such an opposition means that his whole life, he has been needled, criticized, and pushed by other people. That he may have not been violent earlier in life is do in great part to the Sun's placement in Capricorn, a sign known for its great patience but as the old saying goes, if you kick a dog long enough, it will eventually bite you.

The question is, is this stellium in Capricorn in the 1st House opposed to Mars in the 7th House very important? Yes it is! The reason is that this opposition occurs in angular houses, houses where the planets have the greatest impact. In succedent or cadent houses, this opposition, while important, would not have taken on the same importance as when placed in angular houses.

Let's take a close look at Mercury, the planet connected with logical analytical thought. Mercury by nature is very light and not strongly polarized and thus is strongly influenced by the planets with which it is connected. Mercury is well placed in Capricorn. Such a Mercury is very practical and methodical, well organized, and is careful and diplomatic. But is this Mercury of a good quality? Notice that this Mercury is opposed to Mars and trine to Pluto, a planet similar in character to Mars and considered to be the higher octave of Mars. As both are retrograde, both are thus in double-approaching aspects with Mercury. Double-approaching aspects give more dramatic effects than the single approach. So what may we surmise about this man's thinking? Is the thinking peaceful and does he want cooperation and harmony with other people or is his thinking very violent and filled with destructive thoughts? When Mercury in Capricorn is not of a good quality as in this chart, it becomes coldly calculating, premeditated, brutal, and ruthless.

We should note one more important point about this Mercury. From a geocentric viewpoint, we know that Mercury can never be more than 28 degrees away from the Sun. Traditional astrology likes to have Mercury in the sign adjacent to the Sun sign or at least 15 degrees away from the Sun but notice that Mercury is little more than 3 degrees from a conjunction with the Sun. The problem with Mercury being too close to the Sun is that the thinking remains good but it loses its objectivity. The thinking becomes too subjective, and what kind of subjective thoughts does he have? Violent and destructive, both towards himself and others.

The last point to be made about this stellium in Capricorn is to consider the nature of the so-called conjunction aspect (which is not really an aspect but we call it so for the sake of convenience). The potential difficulty with two or more planets in conjunction is the problem of confusion. The closer you bring two planets together, the more difficult it will be for the person to differentiate the quality of one planet from another. It means in the case of this chart that when you consider Mercury, he cannot separate his thoughts from his ego.

If we carry out this type of analysis of a conjunction on the rest of the stellium, we see the great potential for confusion in values. It means that he cannot differentiate the Sun that wants revenge, from the helplessness he feels through Jupiter's condition. In turn, all these planets and their corresponding attitudes are at the disposal of Saturn, the planet connected with fear and survival. It is the great resentment created by this stellium (representing him) that has had to deal lifelong with a violent environment.

An additional statement by Morin from Astrosynthesis forms the rational astrological basis to explain why he finally "snapped". Morin says, "Each planet always acts according to the nature and zodiacal state of its Dispositor. Most often it acts also by reason of the latter's house position". The planet that rules his stellium in Capricorn is Saturn, but this rulership is said to be rulership by Domicile as Saturn is in Domicile in Capricorn. But Mars also rules over this stellium in Capricorn as Mars is ruler of Capricorn by Exaltation. This means, according to Morin's statement, that the basis and cause of the stellium's action is the Dispositor or the ruler of the sign in which the stellium is found. This means that the interpretation of his chart pivots or depends on a through understanding of Saturn and Mars in his chart.

If, for the sake of discussion, Mars in Cancer was not in the 7th House, his life would still have been an unhappy one, but there would not have been the great violent reaction to the environment. Morin says that planets act by reason of their Dispositor's zodiacal state and house position. That means the judgment of whether the stellium acts constructively or not depends on the quantity and quality of both Saturn and Mars. While Saturn is in honor of Domicile, it is still considered destructive in this chart as its influence is too great, and Mars is in a bad zodiacal state. Thus both Dispositors of the stellium are not good and hence, the stellium will be used in a bad and destructive way.

Moreover, as Mars, the Dispositor of Capricorn by Exaltation, is in the 7th House, it means that the misfortune breaks out in his relationships with others or the public.

While this is only a partial analysis the Ascendant, the principle considerations have been mentioned. There are more points to be made but additional comments would take too much space. Furthermore, we have to analyze the Midheaven, Moon, and Sun in a similar fashion. Such a study will reveal that we would see many more considerations that will explain the tragedy of his life. Some considerations will be new and others will only repeat what has already been pointed out. This repetition of what already has been said is very important as repetition reinforces the original considerations and also allows us to have more confidence in the interpretation.

As for timing, I do not know where the man spent his birthday over the last two years, but consider that the killings occurred while Saturn transits his Descendant and Uranus is conjunct Venus and opposed to natal Uranus. Repetitions through transits bring the revival of natal influences.

This analysis or explanation is not to be taken as a justification of his alleged actions. I believe in a free will and although the faculty of choice may be circumscribed by the power of habit in a horoscope, I do believe in a person's ability to learn and make meaningful changes in life and that a person must be responsible for their life and actions. The purpose of this analysis it is meant only to show the basis of a great tragedy though the overwhelming presence of the malefic planets, Saturn and Mars as revealed by Morin's approach to horoscope interpretation.

Robert CorreAfter a rewarding twenty-five year career at New York University's Stern School of Business, Robert Corre retired in 1995 and turned Astrology, his avocation of almost thirty years, into a second career. He started an Astrology practice in New York City's SoHo district with the intent of carrying on the helping tradition of his teacher, Zoltan Mason with whom he studied throughout the 1970's, '80's, and '90's.

Robert continues the teacher-student tradition, giving classes four times a week throughout the tri-state area. His other interest of more than twenty years is Vedanta which he studied under the Indian monk, Dayananda Saraswati. Robert is the author and publisher of the website.

© Robert Corre, 2004

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