Classroom Avengers: The Astrology of School Shootings

During the past decade, the American public has been shocked by a wave of school shooting incidents. This particular kind of teen violence is unique in the history of crime. It is so senseless, unexpected, insidious and “close to home” that it has prompted a wide search for an explanation. Parents, educators, psychologists, social scientists and religious and political leaders have all asked the question, “Why?” Of course, there is no simple, single answer, but there is a method we can use to gain a better perspective on complex psychological situations – astrology.

Using astrology, we can examine the charts of these shooting incidents to see what factors they have in common. From this examination, we can obtain statistical evidence that may allow us to make some generalized statements about this form of violence. In a study conducted by this author, charts were drawn for 33 school shooting incidents that occurred between May 1992 and May 2000 (for a complete list of these events, scroll down). An analysis of these events revealed some striking similarities and consistencies. Some of the astrological factors that these charts share are features that we might anticipate, based on our familiarity with traditional rules of astrology. In other words, they confirm what we already know.

For example, one of the classic astrological indicators of violence is a “hard” aspect (such as a conjunction or opposition) between the Sun and Mars, the planet of aggression. Of the 33 charts, eight showed Mars conjunct the Sun, and three had Mars opposed the Sun. Together, these comprise one-third of the total sample, far above the average number that would be expected to occur by chance alone (what statisticians call “expected frequency”).

Common Astro-Factors in School Shootings

In addition to confirming familiar astrological principles, this study revealed factors that are more surprising and suggest new avenues for further research. For instance, Mars retrograde (when Mars appears to be moving backward as seen from Earth) was found to appear in twice as many charts as it would normally be expected to occur. Four times as many events as would normally be expected took place when Mars was close to perihelion (the position in its orbit when a planet is closest to the Sun).

Compared to expected frequency, seven times as many charts took place close to a planetary station (when a planet appears to “stop” to change direction). The largest deviation from expected frequency was found with the cycle of Venus. In eight years, the period of this study, we could normally expect that one of the 33 events would occur near the time when Venus is at perihelion or aphelion (its position furthest from the Sun). A total of thirteen charts showed this feature! The Littleton, Colorado, event (probably the most notorious school shooting) occurred on the very day that Venus reached perihelion.

Getting back to more familiar astrological factors, one feature we might expect in charts of violent events is aspects (significant angular relationships) between any two of the three planets Mars (war, anger), Saturn (rules, structure) and Pluto (power). In an impressive confirmation of astrological theory, every one of the 33 charts showed at least one aspect between two of these planets; two thirds of them (22) showed two or more aspects. Why Mars-Saturn-Pluto combinations would show up in school shooting charts can be explained by the following.

Personal Vengeance

In a recently published report,* psychologists analyzed the common features of fourteen school shooting incidents that took place in American schools between 1993 and 1999. As the authors of this report pointed out, these events differ from the “conventional” adolescent shooting incidents that occur in inner cities that are drug-related or associated with turf wars of juvenile gangs. Instead, white male rural adolescents committed every one of the school shootings, and the motive was personal vengeance. In every incident studied, the shootings followed soon after the perpetrators were either disciplined by parents or school authorities, or were rejected by peers or girlfriends. The psychologists labelled these boys “classroom avengers.”

The fourteen events used in this psychological study were ones that had been included in the 33-event study, so again, every chart showed significant aspects between Mars, Saturn and/or Pluto. What is interesting is that the “malefic” traits often associated with these planets by astrologers clearly correspond to several characteristics noted by the psychological report. Fifteen of the sixteen perpetrators of these fourteen school shootings had verbalized threats (Mars) prior to the incident. Fifteen boys had also experienced rejection or discipline (Saturn) immediately prior to the incident. Eleven were known to be highly interested in the military, weaponry and media violence (Mars). Thirteen felt victimized (Pluto) prior to the incident, and ten had previously expressed suicidal tendencies (Pluto). Two of the perpetrators killed their parents (Saturn), four committed suicide (Pluto), and nine of them wounded or killed school principals or teachers (authorities/Saturn).

As we can see from these studies, astrology can be a useful tool for organizing our understanding of the timing of events and their psychological impact.


*James P. McGee and Caren R. DeBernardo. The Classroom Avenger. Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Health System, Baltimore MD (1999). School Shooting Case Studies

School Shooting Case Studies


Date Place Criminal(s)
May 1, 1992 Olivehurst, CA Eric Houston
Jan. 18, 1993 Grayson, KY Scott Pennington
Jan. 23, 1995 Redlands, CA John Sirola
Oct. 12, 1995 Blackville, SC Toby Sincino
Oct. 30, 1995 Richmond, VA Edward Spellman
Nov. 15, 1995 Lynnville, TN Jamie Rouse
Feb. 2, 1996 Moses Lake, WA Barry Loukaitais
Feb. 29 1996 St. Louis, MO Mark Boyd
Mar. 13 1996 Dunblane, Scotland unidentified
July 26, 1996 Los Angeles, CA Yohao Albert
Feb. 19, 1997 Bethel, AL Evan Ramsey
Oct. 1, 1997 Pearl, MS Luke Wookham
Dec. 1, 1997 W. Paducah, KY Michael Carneal
Dec. 15, 1997 Stamps, AK Joseph Todd
Mar. 24, 1998 Jonesboro, AK Mitchell Johnson, Andrew Golden
Apr. 24, 1998 Edinboro, PA Andrew Wurst
Apr. 28, 1998 Pomona, CA Joseph Martinez
May 19, 1998 Fayetteville, TN Jacob Lee Davis
May 21, 1998 Springfield, OR Kipland Kinkel
June 15, 1998 Richmond, VA Quinshaw Booker
Feb. 8, 1999 Verdun, Quebec unidentified
Apr. 16, 1999 Notus, Idaho unidentified
Apr. 20, 1999 Littleton, CO Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold
Apr. 30, 1999 Taber, Canada unidentified
May 20, 1999 Conyers, GA unidentified
Nov. 17, 1999 Houston, TX unidentified
Nov. 19, 1999 Deming, NM Victor Cordova
Dec. 6, 1999 Ft. Gibson, OK unidentified
Dec. 7, 1999 Netherlands unidentified
Dec. 14, 1999 Miami, FL unidentified
Feb. 29, 2000 Flint, MI unidentified
Apr. 20, 2000 Ottawa, Canada unidentified
May 26, 2000 Lake Worth, FL unidentified

By Valerie Vaughan

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