The Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001
by Henry Seltzer
We would ask - what would these souls, so recently passed over, want of us the living here today? Certainly not vengeance, certainly not more bloodshed. The quote from Ghandi is quite apt - "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
This article explores the astrological significance of the chart for the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC that killed 5,000 people and left America feeling defenseless for the first time since the Second World War.
The national mood swung wildly between anger and compassion in the wake of this immense tragedy, and whatever the outcome may yet be in terms of global politics, it is certain that all dates in the 21st Century will be referenced as "before September 11th 2001" or "after".
The American economy, already staggering, also took quite a hit.
All in all, such a cataclysmic event for our nation must have astrological
referents. Let's try to see what they are
(see chart ).
The first thing to notice is of course the Saturn-Pluto opposition.
Astrologically, Saturn opposed to Pluto represents an irresistible
force up against an immovable object. Pluto is a force for change,
very likely drastic change, change that may come from the dark, unknown
and repressed element. Pluto is represented by the symbol of the Underworld.
In contrast, Saturn represents existing structure of our lives, life
above ground, the physical and mundane plane of existence, the status
quo. This is inherently a powerful confrontation. We have all of us
been feeling the stress of this combination individually, at least
since the Spring time frame. It has been an intense time of personal
transformation for everyone, even before the tragic events of September
11th took place.
In order to gain perspective on how this opposition has been playing
out for our nation collectively, it is instructive to look at the
chart for the United States, July 4th, 1776. Experts disagree about
the time, but one time that is often used is approximately 5:10
PM (Sibley chart). This chart was rectified by the great American
astrologer Dane Rudyhar to 5:13:55 PM and published in his seminal
work "The Astrology of America's Destiny."
If we place
the transits for the time of the attacks onto this chart for the
U.S. () we see immediately that the Saturn-Pluto opposition lies
directly across the Ascendant-Descendant axis of the U.S. chart,
in fact that the rising point of the chart, at 13+ Sagittarius,
is directly between the Saturn degree of 14+ Gemini and the Pluto
degree of 12+ Sagittarius. Another way to put this is that the Saturn-Pluto
midpoint, at 13+ Virgo, exactly squares the U.S. Ascendant. So the
U.S. chart was directly activated in the timing of the attack event.
A Saturn-Pluto opposition across the Ascendant-Descendant
of an individual entity implies radical transformation, possibly
through a painful event of some enormous magnitude, a death
and re-birth experience. It is as if the entire American population
has been undergoing a near-death experience, collectively.
One way that Saturn-Pluto manifests is by means
of an earthquake, or a volcano, where the destructive force underground
finally breaks through to the surface. In this case, similar to an
earthquake, structures collapsed and many lives were lost in the cataclysm.
It is important to realize that the profound astrological significators
for this event imply that some archetypal process was acting itself
out in America, independent of individual actions, that there's a
way to see this event in purely symbolic and iconographic terms.
And Saturn-Pluto is a perfect representation for the terrorists
attacking the existing structures of power, coming as they do from
the dark unknown places in the underground of civilization. As in
the case of an individual psyche racked with hidden complexes and
compulsions, also symbolized by Pluto, these terrorist elements
gathered their toxic strength in the dark, removed from the world
dialog, essentially unheard voices in the course of Western progress,
representing as they seem to do the displaced Palestinians, and
the Iraquis, whose civilian population has been decimated by a decade
of economic sanctions, both without much recourse in the world dialog.
As astrologer Caroline Casey has pointed out, whatever is excluded
from the world dialog becomes toxic.
There is a way to look at this event in karmic and evolutionary
terms, as part of a process of necessary change that was not being
admitted to in the body politic of America and the West. This is
not to excuse what the terrorists did, obviously they made the wrong
choice, of hatred over love. But we must try to understand some
of the reasons.
It is also important to note that whenever Pluto destroys something
there is the space created for new birth. Pluto represents chaos,
but the chaos is a necessary precursor to the new forms entering
in. So what we should be asking ourselves as we mourn the losses
is not only what has been destroyed, but also: what now is coming
to birth? We have choices also in how we respond to the events of
September 11, both individually and collectively.
The Saturn-Pluto opposition runs for a relatively long period
of time, in this case up to a year. It was exact last August 5th,
it will be exact again on November 2nd, and again in late May 2002.
So we will want to ask ourselves, what were the more specific astrological
triggering factors for this event.
But let us be clear: the planets didn't cause this tragedy to
take place. The planets represent an oracle whereby we can see the
patterns of earthly events, but are not a cause of events in and
Triggering Factors for the Event
The opposition was triggered by Mercury. Mercury on the Ascendant
of the chart for the attacks was exactly trine Saturn, and sextile
to Pluto, and conjunct the Ascendant of the chart within a few minutes
of a degree, and also exactly conjunct U.S. Saturn. That Mercury was
so involved indicates that this attack was a message... a chance for
greater consciousness and awareness. The events indeed send a powerful
message to the Western population about the inter-dependence of America
and the rest of the world. As a nation we are not invulnerable, as
many may have thought before this disaster took place. In that sense
we are not insulated from the rest of the world, as we may have wanted
Jupiter was also a triggering influence in this event. Jupiter
was exactly one sign ahead of Saturn, in Cancer, and therefore aspecting
the Saturn-Pluto opposition also. Jupiter in Cancer represents the
sign of its exaltation, stressing love and brotherhood. And Jupiter
and Saturn together represent social agendas. They conjoined in
May 2000, and marked at that time the beginning of a new era in
world society. It was at the moment of the September 11, 2001 attacks
that we began to see what form this new social reality would take.
That Jupiter is in Cancer speaks of the spiritual nature of the
event, for all Americans, indeed for the free world. In spite of
the horror, we have also seen positive consequences. The reaching
out of people from all over the world in sympathy with victims,
and their families, the donations to the American Red Cross, and
the thousands of acts of selfless heroism that emerged in the wake
of the tragedy, the phrase "I love you" on everyone's lips, the
possibility that Americans will be more in touch with the suffering
of other people around the world as a result of these events, the
plans to drop food as well as bombs on Afghanistan, surely unprecedented
in the history of warfare, all speak to the higher purpose of these
events, in terms of pulling together as a common tribe of man, the
highest meaning of Jupiter in Cancer.
In regard to the positive side we note also that the transiting
Node of the Moon was conjunct the U.S. Venus-Jupiter, in the Seventh
House of the U.S. chart, at the time of the attacks, a very significant
astrological symbol that cannot be ignored. Although it is difficult
to say this, there was a sense in which this event was somehow fated,
and may eventually lead to the generosity of Americans toward the
rest of the world, as well as act as a stimulant to their anger.
Another trigger of this event astrologically was that this summer,
on June 21st 2001, there was a Solar Eclipse at 0 degrees Cancer,
the same sign as the U.S. Sun and very close to U.S. Venus. Eclipses
typically take several months to work themselves out in earthly
affairs. Events may show up when the eclipse point is subsequently
triggered by transiting planets, especially Mars. And transiting
Mars had just reached it's opposition to the eclipse point the day
before the event, just as the Moon conjuncted Saturn and squared
the transiting Sun, on the Quarter Moon of Monday September 10th
which preceded the next morning's attacks. On Tuesday September
11th the Moon was still in Gemini, widely conjunct Saturn, while
the Saturn/Moon midpoint exactly conjoined U.S. Mars, also in the
seventh House of the U.S. chart.
It is interesting that Saturn was in Gemini,
especially as we can regard Saturn as the structure that was
destroyed by the Plutonic forces, namely the twin towers of
the World Trade Center. Gemini also represents the Descendant
of the chart of the U.S. for 5:13 PM July 4th 1776.
In fact, the Descendant of an entity's chart represents
the way that entity reaches out to partnership with the rest of humanity,
namely in the case of America as symbolized by Gemini in the form
of communication, commerce and trade. And since Gemini is the sign
of the twins, this symbolic identification with the structure of the
World Trade Center is quite apt.
Gemini on the U.S. Descendant can also be conceived as the two-fold
foreign policy of this nation toward the rest of the world. The
U.S. chart has a complex seventh House, with both the Jupiter-Venus
conjunction and also Mars, representing both the generosity of America
and also its military might, two ways in which we deal with our
international neighbors, the hand that gives and the hand that takes.
And both sides were strongly aspected by the September 11th events.
So we have an American World Trade Center, located near the Statue
of Liberty in New York harbor, in the form of twin towers, representing
the Gemini Descendant of the U.S. chart, and way the United States
reaches out to its neighbors around the world. This was the cultural
icon that represented the economic might of America, and that the
terrorists wanted to destroy. Of course the tallness of the towers
also represents the preeminence of U.S. economic power in the post
Astrological Antecedents to the Event
Now let's look at the chart for the opening of the twin towers. The
ground-breaking that preceded this opening was on August 5, 1966,
at the tail end of the previous Saturn-Pluto opposition, and the same
day as the first exact Saturn-Pluto opposition of 2001. The actual
ribbon-cutting ceremony for the World Trade Center was on April 4,
In this chart, the Sun is conjunct Chiron, indicating some painful
consequence, and as well the opportunity for healing. Saturn is
appropriately in Gemini, at almost the same degree as at the time
of the attacks, which took place some 28 years later. So the World
Trade Center was about to undergo its own Saturn return at the time
of the attacks.
Now let's look at this chart in comparison to the chart of the
U.S. (). It is striking that Saturn and Pluto are emphasized
in this comparison. Pluto is directly on the U.S. Midheaven, representing
power through control. Saturn is on the Descendant of the U.S. chart
- entrenched power and mentorship in relation to the rest of the
world. What are we to make of the Saturn-Pluto affinity? There it
is, right from the beginning of the World trade Center as a representation
of America's national preeminence on the world stage, and as a sign
of its policy toward the rest of the world also.
If we look back to 1973, when the twin towers were opened, we
might recall that the U.S., through the CIA, was in the process
of helping to overthrow Chile's popular socialist president Salvador
Allende, in a bloody coup that was followed by right-wing repression
that left many hundreds of people disappeared, dead or imprisoned.
This event, which also took place coincidentally on September 11,
echoed U.S. foreign policy in many other parts of the world, notably
Central America, in Guatemala and later Nicaragua. The U.S. has
become a feared nation, a producer of state-sponsored terrorism.
The hand that gives, and the hand that takes. If you would like
to see a detailed account of America's clandestine foreign policy
activities, check out "The CIA's Greatest Hits" by Mark Zepezauer.
So we have seen that Saturn and Pluto were emphasized in the chart
for the opening of the World Trade Center, as well as in the chart
for its destruction. This important fact reveals that terrorism
begins at home, and that if we want to identify the dark forces
responsible for the events of September 11th, we would do well to
consider the part played by our own government over the years, including
the destruction of Iraq through sanctions at the end of the Gulf
War, in contrast to the period of rebuilding and reconstruction
that was offered to Germany in the aftermath of World Wars I and
If we as a nation could become more sensitive
to the suffering of all people everywhere in the world, rather
than just people that look like us, future tragedies of terrorism
might be averted. Otherwise, we will have only the escalating
cycle of violence of a world at war with itself. In other words,
there really is no enemy. America has declared war on its own
The Saturn-Pluto cycle and the World Trade Center
In looking at the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 2001-2002, it is
instructive to look back to the beginning of the current cycle,
which was in November of 1982
(). This Saturn-Pluto conjunction took place in the
tenth House of the U.S. chart, in the same sign as U.S. Saturn,
trine U.S. Moon and exactly square U.S. Pluto. The transiting conjunction's
aspect to U.S. Moon implies that the public perception was somehow
involved. The theme of underground power and control is shown by
Pluto in the tenth House, and as we think back to those times, secret
power and control was indeed being exercised by the new right-leaning
republican administration of Ronald Regan. The Iran-Contra scandal,
which was about to break, revealed a pattern of state-sponsored
terrorism on the part of the United States that was relatively unprecedented.
The Contras in Nicaragua were systematically torturing and killing
the civilian population in order to prevent the popular Sandinista
government, recently elected, from remaining in control of the country.
The Contras could not be legally funded by the U.S. government,
due to congressional prohibition, but they were funded by Regan's
administration with redirected money from secret arms deals with
Iran, who was our supposed enemy, and another totalitarian regime
favorable to terrorism. Of course, Regan's vice president was George
Bush senior, who was reportedly involved up to his eyebrows in Iran-Contra,
although this fact was never conclusively proven. Under his administration
there were several military excursions, such as the invasion of
Panama, which killed thousands of innocent civilians. Finally, in
1991, we had the Gulf War, and subsequent bombings and economic
devastation through the ten years of sanctions, which created enormous
hatred in the Arab world and which may have been one factor in the
September 11 attacks.
In the chart for the first World Trade Center bombing, which took
place on February 26, 1993, we note that the transiting Saturn-Pluto
cycle is again involved, this time the waxing square
(). Jupiter, in retrograde, occupied almost the same
degree as Mercury in the chart of the September 11 attacks, conjunct
U.S. Saturn. Stationary Pluto, conjunct U.S. Moon, had just turned
retrograde that same day. Of course this earlier terrorist act was
also reportedly promulgated by bin Laden's network.
When the new Millennium dawned on January 1st, 2000, it featured
a conjunction between Pluto and Chiron, indicating that some powerful
and painful healing might be involved with the unfolding events
of the 21st Century. It is interesting in this regard that the Quarter
Moon the day before the recent attack event opposed exactly the
Pluto/Chiron midpoint. The last Pluto-Chiron conjunction occurred
in July 1941, near the beginning of the American involvement in
World War II.
After January 1, 2000, Saturn began to move closer to its original
position when the WTC towers were opened, and entered Gemini on
August 10, 2000. Two days later there was an incident at the World
Trade Center, in Tower 2, when an elevator struck the top of the
shaft and eight people endured a hair-raising rescue, eventually
escaping with injuries.
This brings us up to the present. In the aftermath of the attacks,
rather than involving the U. N., or another legally constituted
world consortium of nations, the republican administration of G.
W. Bush Junior has chosen to pursue basically a unilateral policy
of attacks on terrorist camps and the controlling Taliban rulers
of Afghanistan, the new Viet Nam of our era. Of course this unilateral
policy is enraging many of the Arab ultra-nationalists that have
been rising up in anger around the world in response to the past
decade of American high-handed methods in dealing with the Middle
East. It is also becoming known that the U. S. has long had the
Taliban regime on it's list out of concerns for the stability of
planned Unilocal oil pipelines through the region.
Since there is also a distribution of food
in this military campaign, we can only hope that this war will
be different, and that G. W. can still prove his credentials
as a "compassionate conservative." Perhaps there can be a relatively
peaceful reconstruction. Something must be done, and soon, to
stop the cycle of violence.
The Terrorism Out There and the Terrorism at Home
So we have the terrorism out there and the terrorism within our own
government. And we have the endemic lack of awareness, or even interest,
on the part of most Americans about tragedies and deaths in other
lands. It could all be changing in this new era of American vulnerability.
And this is the real message of Saturn-Pluto, that change is necessary,
change is inevitable, that we must make the change. And that we as
a nation have to choose between trying to promote the concept of a
world at war or a world at peace.
In the seventies Rennie Davis said "Viet Nam is such a jewel,"
which was a rather terrible thing to say, because that war was so
horrific. What did he mean by that? He meant that the increase in
consciousness was worth even the suffering that brought America
to it. Now America is involved in another war, not really very different
from all the other ones. For each one of us, the war brings the
Saturn-Pluto opposition home in an extreme fashion, brings to each
heart among us the call for urgent transformation. It is important
for us to realize that we have to work on ourselves first. As we
heal the anger and lack of compassion within each one of us, so
will the world be healed.