Posted by: Donna Cunningham | June 15, 2014

Why Astrologers Cannot and Should Not Predict Violence or Suicide

 ©6-15-2014 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

There have been an alarming number of tragic mass murder events over the past few years. On several of those occasions, when the age and birth date of the killer were revealed by the press, it was clear that they fell into the range of 1988-90, the period when Uranus, Saturn, and Neptune were closely conjunct in Capricorn. The younger ones tended to have concentrations of planets in Aquarius, including Uranus and Neptune.

A guest blogger created a post, published on Skywriter a week ago, in which the birth charts (mostly without birth times) of shooters in several of these events were presented—in particular, several who were behind school shootings. Readers were invited to look for astrological patterns in the charts and report their observations in the comment section. 

The intention behind the discussion was a positive one. She asked readers, “What be learned from the astrological makeup of the few who did kill? Can we use astrology to identify those of this generation who might be at high risk for a tragic meltdown if they don’t get help?” 

I would add a caution for readers to keep in mind when doing an analysis of a chart in that age range: Of course, very few of the people born in that period with that conjunction have resorted to violent behavior—after all, there were 138 million of them born worldwide in 1989 alone, and nearly as many as that divided between 1988 and 1990. Thus, on any of the 365 days of 1989, about 378,000 people were born around the globe and thus had most of the same planetary aspects.

Given that each rising sign is on the Ascendant for two hours a day, that makes approximately 31,000 kids born with the same house placements. And getting the same transits to their natal placements. How many of those 31,000 kids wound up doing a massacre?

Rather than making dire conclusions about an individual’s astrology chart, we need to view the chart through that perspective of a long-term, world wide generation of people.

The discussion in the comment section was lively, but I grew uncomfortable with the tone of the comments, as did the guest blogger. We weren’t just uncomfortable, frankly, we squirmed at things like speculating that one shooter’s mother might have been raped or violently assaulted.

Furthermore, the point is, in looking at the shooters’ charts, with birth data gathered after the shooting, we are predicting by hindsight, which is always 100%. Gratifying to the ego, no doubt, but my concern here is for those young people–or most likely their worried loved ones–who would be shattered by judgments and predictions like these from an astrologer or an amateur student of astrology. Many of them take every word that comes out of our mouths as coming directly from God. 

This morning, the guest blogger and I decided to remove the post and all the comments. What prompted this action was a much-needed comment from a reader:

“Hi Donna, first, I think it was nice of you to acknowledge that millions of people were born with those aspects and yet a few became dangerous to society. But, still, I think astrologers should raise awareness on ethics, and on stereotyping. Astrology can be a very powerful benefic tool for self-discovery and improvement.

“I frown over any astrologer who delves into criminology, because for crime to happen there must be much more than planetary aspects. There should be history, economic background, culture, parenting style, traumatic event in the past, and someone with the same planetary aspects can have completely different factors in his/her life history that makes all the difference. Sorry to confront what everyone was saying in this discussion, but I had to.”

My immediate reply was, “Glad you spoke up. My background is in social work (MSW) so, yes, it is very important to note that the chart does not cause you to be a criminal, that there are social, emotional, family, and even cultural influences that can contribute to a history of violence. Again, there are thousands of people born around the world on any given day, and they are not ‘doomed’ to become a criminal.”

In addition to removing the post, I began thinking about a related type of tragic violence that is coming up with young people in the age group we’re talking about—namely suicide.

(And, in a very real sense, these mass shootings are also suicides, as most of them take their own lives along with the lives of their victims.)

The Capricorn Stellium generation, born in 1988-89 with a trio of Uranus, Saturn, and Neptune closely conjunct in the middle degrees of that sign, has been particularly stressed by transits over the past few months. There has been relentless pressure as the ongoing Pluto-Uranus square has been amped up currently by the slow square from a stationary Mars in Libra.

There is also huge stress from the climate of our time, with huge social, economic, and environmental issues reaching a point of near combustion.  Confronted with these huge forces that will surely impact their future and their prospects of living happily and well, there can be a sense of hopelessness and being trapped in a scary world they have no control over. To me, this reality is one of  the  major reasons so many of them are addicted to anything from substances to gaming to sex.

We would have to wonder how many of these young people have reached a breaking point or are near it lately. One mother who attended my seminar on the Capricorn Stellium Generation revealed that there had been 25 suicides in her daughter’s college class.

Okay, but can we and should we be predicting suicide when we see alarming charts patterns looming? We would want to do whatever we could to prevent it, yet it would be totally unethical to make a prediction like that–not to mention terrifying to the client. Could a prediction like that become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

 The codes of ethics of four major astrology organizations in the United States specifically prohibit predicting death (which would include suicide). See them here:

So that addresses the question of why we shouldn’t predict suicide.  But what about my other assertion–that we CANNOT reliably predict suicide?  The next post will discuss a rigorous research  study by a group of research-oriented astrologers that says even the best-trained astrologer cannot predict it reliably. Stay tuned.

I believe we can help clients by being much more educated about suicide and suicide prevention. I am working on an article that I will publish here in the next few days on how astrologers might handle this dilemma. 

 Coming Next: Suicide Prevention vs. Suicide Prediction:  A Guide for Astrologers

For more information about the Capricorn stellium generation, visit There is also a special FaceBook Group for this generation, which you can find out about here:  Great News!! A Capricorn Stellium Group Forms on FaceBook!!


  1. I did a chart on the Boston Bombing and was 100 % correct in whom they charged with it, sent results to Col. in USAF. From now on if I dont know a victom personally, I wont believe it/such really happened. Sandy Hook found to be a drill, and no dead kids.

    • It’s not the point that we are or are not correct in a particular instance. On any of the 365 days in 1989, for instance, about 378,000 people were born around the globe with the same planetary patterns as any one of the shooters born that year.

      Given that each rising sign is on the Ascendant for two hours a day, that makes approximately 31,000 kids born with the same house placements. And getting the same transits to their natal placements. How many of those 31,000 kids wound up doing a massacre?

      Furthermore, the point is, in looking at the shooters’ charts, with birth data gathered after the shooting, we are predicting by hindsight, which is always 100% accurate.

      Gratifying to the ego, no doubt, but my concern here is for those young people–or most likely their worried loved ones–who would be shattered by judgments and predictions like these from an astrologer or an amateur. Many of them take every word that comes out of our mouths as coming directly from God.

      In the next post, I’ll be addressing professional issues like these. Donna Cunningham

  2. Very clever notice: in fact, thousands of people born every hour, with having same birth chart, and yet only one of them commits suicide, violence, dies, etc.

    One can however predict when a life period of crises might happen, like Saturn entering IC, Uranus entering ASC Pluto entering MC (I had this once).

    But everyone will experience a different degree of crises. Different events of a crises. For some, it will be rather soft, for others rather intense. But change is always there when there are so many cardinal/angle transits.

    Same thing for anger outbursts. One time I had Pluto conjuncting Mars and Uranus squaring it, and yet I had not a single outburst of anger. But I had indeed a period of the highest adrenaline, risk taking adventure of my life. The energy was challened elsewhere.

    Hope this clarifies things too

  3. Excellent points, Seurelha. Yes, the transiting planets (especially in a combination like this one) can trigger a crisis, but the individual reacts differently to even a very similar stressful situation, depending on the natal aspect and how they are accustomed to using those planets.

    Even given the same individual, recent transits and events and the growth or lack of it can alter the way they wind up using the current transits. And that can’t be determined by the natal chart, but only by talking it through with the person to see what choices they made and whether they learned and grew through the process. Donna

  4. Thank you so much for this post, Donna. I saw the guest post and a few of the comments, then couldn’t return to the site; perhaps it was just too soon after the tragedies, for me.

    But, as is often the case with your site, the issue you brought up rattled around in my brain as I went through my daily routine. I noticed, with heightened appreciation, the members of that Capricorn stellium generation who work with children in my community. Energetic, inventive, most working at least two jobs…great young people.

    And the thought kept occurring to me: with all of that outer planet energy, they are carrying so much from/for our society as a whole. So many of our unresolved feelings and attitudes about mental health, violence, status-seeking and countless other issues are being played out in their lives. For myself, I have decided to be responsible and clear in my thinking and attitudes about all of these uncomfortable issues. And to be supportive of the Capricorn stellium generation, who are carrying so much cultural baggage.

    Thank you for your willingness to deal with these problems, from an astrological standpoint. Together, we will all get through this.

    • Thank you, Mary. It is all so tragic, and my heart goes out to these young people. When I think of my 20s, during the turbulent 60s, it was a hard time, but this is so far beyond that, I don’t know how they’re handling it. The two times are related–Pluto and Uranus were conjunct then, and they’re square now, but it seems so much more volatile, with Uranus in Aries, than it was in the 60s, when Uranus and Pluto were both in Virgo. Donna

  5. I disagree with the reader who says “I frown over any astrologer who delves into criminology because for crime to happen there must be much more than planetary aspects.” Criminologists should look at all factors, including the astrological factors. Second, when we look at the salvation of a human being (for example, saving them from committing a crime), we have to look at astrology against character aspiration–the individual’s commitment and drive to live an evolved life over the chart.

    Despite that manner of living, transcending the base natal chart to live a life that blesses society, yes, there is doom. What the oracle was to Oedipus, Astrology is to us. We must not deceive ourselves. My generation, the generation of Pluto in Virgo is dealing with transiting Neptune opposition natal Pluto. The message is: All you spirits who have incarnated while Pluto was in Virgo must now face the difference between ideals and reality. Now, the expertise with which we face an opposition, conjunction, etc. will determine how we act out.

    In terms of Astro-Carto-Graphy, when I moved from living under a Venus influence to a Saturn influence, there was no way I could stop the Saturnian theme manifesting in my life with the exception of getting from under the Saturn beam of heaven. Loved ones do not enjoy hearing me speak of going back to a place on Earth where Saturn on the DS is nor mirroring the Saturn on the DS in my natal chart. Yes, I and others are helping me experience it with some degree of transcendence. As in the book of Job, when entities of Heaven make you an object of their influence, you are under that influence. Cope with it as best you can; and, even ask society to lighten up.

    It is unfortunate that you have taken down the article while it is fortunate you have taken down comments that were going in the wrong direction. Even so, it could have been a teaching opportunity. Why do I find it unfortunate? I think we have to know to what degree people cannot cope. We have to know how dangerous an aspect or transit can be. We have to know how important it is to be nurtured by parents, community, and society, covering us from acting out our darkest impulses from the objects and patterns in the solar system.

    I know how true Saturn changed my life under the influence of Venus. Other heavenly influences can be harsher than Saturn. IF I had Pluto or Uranus on my DS, I would NOT go to college where my AstroCartoGraphy chart showed a Pluto or Uranus DS influence. Astrologers, should have the ethics and the obligation to warn our fellow people of the darkest astrological influences and inform the field of criminology a life counseling and college counseling about low-percentage astrological life choices.

    • Hmm. Yes, I’m glad you mentioned you mentioned the influence of Astro*Cartro*Graphy when the person has moved from their birthplace. I believe some of the shooters were living far from their birthplace, and thus might have shifted more difficult placements onto the midheaven. The location could also affect people who are suffering from severe depression, if the current location put some of the more difficult chart placements onto an angle. Donna

    • To Stephen: I do have ethical concerns about using astrology in criminology, because it is not possible to predict crime with astrology and be 100% accurate. Moreover, depending on how the astrologer approach the topic, and how it is written, it can open a lot of space for misinterpretation, that in the end can give tools to people to stigmatize others.

      That said, I’m not against talking about hard aspects in a chart, about predicting moments when someone will struggle to belong in this world in a harmonic way. People have drug issues, anger issues, depression, grief, and understanding the natal chart can be a key to overcome or at least interpret the struggle in a new way.

      As Donna exposed, the key problem is how to approach these issues in a way to make a contribution to society. Imagine someone reading “stellium in capricorn in lets say 12 house = psychopaths”. The 12th house has enough stereotypes! Another example: I’ve read once an astrology article (in a very famous horoscope website) about an irish terrorist woman (The Black Widow) pinpointing all her deeds to pluto in scorpio aspects/transits and the author didn’t even know her birthtime. The article was extremely dramatic and gives the reader the impression: “pluto in scorpio = terrorist”.

      @Donna: I’m totally your fan. BTW but a bit off topic, while watching the Soccer Worldcup these days I always recall your discussion on capricorn stelliums. I’ve been drawing the natal charts of the main stars of the competition, and evidently the cap stellium is there. Imagine that good part of the sports players nowadays belong to this generation. It would be amazing to make a discussion on olympic atheletes, football players, soccer players. Heroes time! I love drawing charts of athletes to check on their Mars aspects and how they positively express it to the delight of the people. One would be surprised to see how many atthlete superstars have Mars in Libra and Taurus.

      • I’m glad you wrote back, Arya. In deleting the article, I lost your email address and had wanted to say thank you for raising the issue. Here, again, you’ve made many good points about this issue.

        As for Olympic athletes, I’m not surprised that many of them had the Capricorn trio of planets. Athletes tend to be youthful, to have only a certain number of years that they’re at the top of their field, so many of this current bunch of top athletes (Olympians, for instance) would fit into either the Capricorn stellium generation or the Aquarian stelliums that followed on their heels.

        My favorite sport is figure skating, and you’ll find an article on the Olympic figure skating champion in dance, Charlie White here: Not only does he have the triple conjunction in Capricorn of Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, he also a 5-planet stellium in Scorpio Sun, Mercury, Pluto, Venus and the Moon in Scorpio. I wonder what dire predictions that Scorpio-hating astrologer you quoted would make about him and his future? Donna

      • To Ayra,

        To reduce repeat offenses and to rehabilitate criminals, I’m a big fan of Astro-Carto-Graphy. Why? Because it is one of the few remedies we have. The Vedic Astrologers have remedies. I have Anne Beversdorf’s book Vedic Secrets to Happiness. In Vedic Astrology, a little helpful remedy for malefic Saturn would be to visit the elderly on Saturday. I am very, very sorry, I, a Sun, Venus, and Mercury in Taurus moved away from being under the influence of a Venus Angle to live under a Saturn angle. My parents were in the last phase of their life. My dad passed away 12/28/12, almost four years after I moved here. I felt the spiritual significance, the blessings of Saturn visiting him in a nursing home on Saturday mornings. I know these planets are true to their word. Some Planets feed beauty (Venus), wisdom (Saturn) but some definitely contribute to criminality and victimization; and, to that I say “deliver us from evil.” I am truly sorry, you would let astrologically immature adults suffer (as I suffer under Saturn and could suffer worse under some other locational astrology influence). Please read the delineations/descriptions of Jim Lewis. Astrology teaches compassion. It has made me compassionate to those who would be rehabilitated and know a less evil existence. I’m grateful I live in a country that is more than 500 miles wide so I could experience the facts of Astrology. Now, I have a Venus perspective on Astrology and a Saturnian perspective on Astrology. I thought I “got” Astrology through Venus but the emphasis provided by Saturn is worthy of filling my speech as a wise old man.

  6. During the time when this Capricorn stellium generation was being born, I was in the middle of my first Saturn return, with two young children to raise on my own, 1990 was the year I divorced my alcoholic husband of 8 years. I also had to go on welfare, get food stamps, and was living in a termite infested old house that my father owned and he nor my carpentry enabled brother would fix up. While this Capricorn action was going on, it was all hitting my 12th house. I have a Capricorn stellium in my 12th, Saturn, Jupiter, and the Moon, at critical degree 29.

    • That would be a very hard Saturn return. When I discuss that era with others, many of them found the combination of Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune transits extremely difficult and life changing. Maybe it would help us all to remember what was happening to us in 1988-89, and then, if it was a very difficult, to imagine what it is like for this new generation to be born with that combination in their charts and to have to live under it for their entire life. Donna Cunningham

      • Exactly. Knowing about astrology really helped me during those dark years. I can understand how this generation has a hard time dealing with the aspects, so to speak. Unfortunately, Astrology is not taught to our youth as the serious science that it is, if all the youth were taught this as part of their school curriculum, they would have a much better understanding of what makes them tick, what influences their generation, and what makes other people tick. The mainstream still thinks of Astrology as some wacko hobby.

      • Thanks, Kathleen. When I wrote The Stellium Handbook, I especially wrote it with this generation in mind, and devoted a whole chapter to the. Knowing that few of them would be astrology students because they’d be focused on developing their own personal interests and gifts, I took pains to write it in plain English, explain all the astrological terms as I went along. Donna

    • I remember well my life-changing events of 1989-1990. Transiting Saturn was opposing my n. Su/Sat at 26-28* Cancer. The IRS garnisheed my check, leaving me less than $50 to live on. I was nearly evicted but worked out a court plan. And I moved cross-country back to my elderly parents’ residence where I helped my 74-yr old dad in his terminal illness. Very sobering, but I emerged better equipped to then get a masters degree, write at a much deeper level, and reconnect with family at an absolutely invaluable time.

      • Really a harrowing time, Judy, but you came through it like a trooper. Maybe the fact that all those transiting planets were in Capricorn helped–that sign is the epitome of that saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Donna

  7. Ms. Cunningham. I agree wholeheartedly about not predicting death of a client suicide or otherwise. When I began to study astrology in the mid-sixties how the scientific art was presented to me was in quasi-modern deterministic fashion such that once you learned about a chart the person was locked into whatever the symbols suggested period. Even before I found that there was so much more to astrology than that narrow-view I felt intuitively that this was wrong. I have since confirmed this initial insight. Whatever astrology may have been in the past it is sufficiently naïve enough on the one hand and malleable on the other to fit the needs of whatever era in which it is being used. In our era in my opinion it is to be used primarily for what I call psycho-spiritual self-development. I recently sent you a somewhat detailed description of an event which occurred in my life concerning an aortic aneurysm I had during a transit of Pluto in Capricorn square my natal ASC and Jupiter in Aries. One of the things which I knew was had I been asked to delineate a chart like mine or even my own chart prior to the aneurysm I would not have looked at even the possibility of the aneurysm occurring even though as you point out after the fact the contributing astrological factors are quite clear and evident even in my opinion as to why I survived an event that routinely kills about 89% of those who suffer from it even with the capacity available through modern medical technology (something by the way which I believe was accelerated after that stellium in Capricorn you are so concerned with). What I think astrologers need to be about is encouraging the native to take as much advantage as they are able to transform themselves and consequently their lives by consciously and intentionally facing those situations and events through circumstance that they will face anyway based on the timing of astrological progressions and transits. Obviously an astrologer can develop such a high level of competency as to be able to predict almost anything connected with human affairs as co-related through the symbolism of astrology the key is the level of competency developed and I don’t believe we have many astrologers practicing commercially with anywhere near the level of competency required and even if it were true someone did have this level I am speaking of I still agree that such predictions should be out of bounds except for and unless the astrologer could some how speak to and event which the individual could by avoiding or engaging in save their life and obviously only then if the astrologer is absolutely one-hundred percent correct. Since astrology is not practiced to this degree of precision in one sense the discussion becomes mute. However and on the other hand there appear to still be people who have the notion of astrology as kind of fortune telling science where one determines ones proficiency based on how many times one is “right” with some prediction or other and as you say to one of the earlier commenters astrology should not be predicted on that kind of analysis. I am quite certain that that is not what it was created and developed for all these long centuries ago. Well that’s my two and a-half cents and thank you as always for a very interesting astrological web-site. Your humble servant, James E. Page

  8. It is a bit like the doomsday astrologers who almost seem to be sorry if the Pluto-Uranus square not develops into a crisis parallel to the square in the early 1930’s

  9. Thank you for the comments. my group discussed the article and totally undersand that a natal chart can not predict one’s behavior. one of my friends is so worried her ex-son in law will hurt her daughter, but after our discssions, she realizes we can not predict his behavior.
    my astrology mentor always said “use the energy before it uses you”. there are millions of wonderful people born with the same charts as the killers. those people used the energy for good and not evil.
    continue your wonderful work.

    • Thank you, Peggy, it’s good to know these topics are up for discussion in astrology groups. As this mini series unfolds, one of the questions I’ll explore is how to determine and handle risk factors in the lives of people with this sort of natal and transiting challenges. Donna

  10. Reminds me of the astrology of twins. I’ve personally witnessed the way they each come to own different aspects of their shared chart, (did I learn about this from you, Donna?) Perhaps the dominant themes. (even suicide, death, or violence), are strong for everyone born under a particular planetary configuration, except that some only witness it in (project it onto) their peers, or their environment, while others are more directly affected by the energy.

    • Hi, Chas, good to hear from you. No, I’ve written a bit about twins here, but not the topic you mention–sounds good. In a way, the Capricorn group all have thousands of astrotwins (people born the same date as them). I’d estimated before that, based on birth statistics, on any of the 365 days of 1989, about 378,000 people were born around the globe and thus had most of the same planetary aspects. (Of course, a true astrotwin would be born around the same time that day and close by.) And few of them would have been assassins or committed suicide, but we don’t hear what they’re doing, since they don’t make headlines. Donna

  11. We all should keep those dire interpretations to our selves and never make public comments on them or comment to the person of whom the chart belongs. Ok to do private research, but must always keep it that way. If we can’t say something positive to a client, then say nothing.

  12. I think in certain cases, someone with a chart that may hint at criminal activity, the individual may not turn out to be a criminal, but rather a criminal investigator; a drug counselor rather than a drug addict.

  13. “We would have to wonder how many of these young people have reached a breaking point or are near it lately. One mother who attended my seminar on the Capricorn Stellium Generation revealed that there had been 25 suicides in her daughter’s college class.”

    According to my shrink today, she has a TON of suicidal clients within the last month. (not me, though!) I have the impression that it’s getting pretty ugly.

  14. I am completely open to knowing that someone has things in their chart that could be helpful, knowledgeable information. I have always felt, we’ve missed something between Religion, Tarot and Astrology. It should all come together like folding hands praying. Be aware and keeping all these things as our extra eyes, as extra tools.

  15. If you predicted a suicide and then prevented the suicide, then the prediction would self-evidently have been wrong! So if you can prevent a suicide, then you can’t predict it. At least not accurately. But if a study is done about already committed suicides, then completely different questions have to be asked. Did the rigorous study take the asteroid Erigone into consideration? It is known as the suicide indicator. A thoroughly made study must include it. Only from such a study could we draw conclusions! All other kinds of violence have their own indicators, too.

    So if we learn to make accurate predictions, which is probably possible considering the necessary factors, then we can’t help. But without helping, the whole prediction thing is useless and should be abandoned. All of astrology could be abandoned then. So helping is in the end the underlying idea. What has finally to be done is identifying the harmful symbols and live them in a harmless way. Like some astrologers distinguish an undeveloped, a compensated, a developed, and a transpersonal way of expressing a factor of the natal chart. It is only much easier said than done. I couldn’t turn any of my collective or transpersonal planets into something good yet.

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