Stephane Charbonnier, 47, Charlie Hebdo’s late editor-in-chief.
On the morning of 7 January 2015, gunfire echoed in the Paris offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, where the editorial staff was having its weekly meeting. The magazine was well known for its extreme and highly provocative satire, an equal-opportunity offender of religious and political figures of all stripes. In 2011 its offices had been firebombed by Islamist extremists in response to derogatory cartoons depicting Mohammed, and its editor-in-chief had been placed on al Qaeda’s “most wanted” list at that time. This sunny Paris morning, two black-clad, masked gunmen armed with AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles stormed the building, and in a scene of mass carnage lasting under ten minutes, killed 12 and wounded 11 others. The editorial staff was called out by name as they were shot execution-style.
Shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (Arabic for “God is great!”) and “We have revenged the Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo!”, the two gunmen calmly got into their car and drove away. They were quickly identified as brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi. A nation-wide manhunt was initiated that resolved itself two days later with their deaths in a shoot-out with police at a print shop in Dammartin en Goele, north of Paris.
The morning after the Charlie Hebdo killings, a policewoman was shot to death on a Paris street in an incident that was not immediately recognized as related to the massacre at the magazine. The connection became apparent on Friday, when the gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, entered a kosher Jewish supermarket in Paris and opened fire, killing four and taking 15 more hostages. He demanded that police raise their siege of the print shop where his confederates, the Kouachi brothers, were holed up. At about sunset, police stormed both sites, killing all three suspects.
The response to the Hebdo massacre throughout France and across the globe was immediate, with millions of people pledging their support for free speech in the way we do now, by tweeting with the hashtag “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”). A more tangible demonstration occurred the night of the massacre, with tens of thousands of Parisians flooding the streets at the Place de la Republique, carrying signs, holding high their pens and pencils to represent freedom of speech. A more organized rally was held on the Sunday following, when an estimated 1.6 million people came out to express solidarity, including more than 40 world leaders, among them Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Charlie Hebdo shooting is the latest in a long string of similar incidents, if one of the more dramatic. A chart set for 11:30 AM CET in Paris, when the gunmen began their spree, is pivotal to understanding the incident itself and the motivations behind it.
As with many of these atrocities, the ongoing extended conjunction between TNO Ixion and centaur Pholus, representing, respectively, murder and mass deaths, is prominently displayed. (This is a 35-year-long pattern, discussed in detail in my article “Astrology of the Great Pholus-Ixion Conjunction” in the August 2014 Daykeeper Journal.) In this instance, this pair at 22 and 24 Sagittarius conjoin the Midheaven at 26 Sagittarius, itself conjunct the Galactic Center, a point which, when activated, virtually guarantees global attention and notice. This conjunction at the MC, the point of highest elevation in the chart and the focus of all eyes, sets the tone for the moment, one inflected with an amoral (Ixion), out of control (Pholus) bloodlust (Ixion), seeking to kill as many innocents as possible (Pholus).
Also of note is the 22 Pisces Ascendant, exactly squared to Ixion. Ruled primarily by Jupiter and secondarily by Neptune, the Pisces Ascendant implies not only the resonant issues of religious or political ideology and publishing (both Jupiter), but also themes of fanaticism and zealotry (Neptune). Reinforcing the energy of “murder with religious intent” is Jupiter’s close trine with Ixion, from 21 Leo. Retrograde, it indicates that these ideas are throwbacks to an earlier era.
Adding a further gloss of violence, death and homicide to the period is the annual conjunction of the Sun with Pluto, just separating with the Sun at 16 Capricorn still within orb of Pluto at 13 Capricorn. Pluto traditionally rules terrorism and homicide, while the Sun brings clarity and focus to whatever it touches. Not only this, but the Sun is also exactly conjunct a reality-warping Black Hole, showing Parisians just how vulnerable and exposed they truly are. Black Holes are often prominent in those moments of “you can’t go home again,” where the status quo reality is altered in a split second, and it is impossible to return to the complacency and normalcy that came before.
Squaring the Sun is Uranus, planet of shootings, shocks, revolution/rebellion and also aliens or those who feel alienated. Although the Kouachis were natural-born French citizens, they identified more with their family’s Algerian roots and Muslim heritage than with the Western values of inclusion, tolerance and acceptance fostered in France, and saw themselves as rebels for their cause.
There is a close conjunction of Mercury and Venus at 3 and 4 Aquarius, and on its face, that doesn’t seem to indicate “trouble.” But if we look at this more deeply, we see expressed the central focus of Charlie Hebdo, so key to the motivations of the attackers. Mercury of course rules publications, and Venus rules comedy or satire, Hebdo’s raison d’etre. The Moon at 11 Leo opposed this pairing just hours before, ramping up the emotion associated with the magazine and eliciting the very public (Moon) statement from the Kouachis.
Mercury and Venus are also entangled with a forming square between Saturn at 1 Sagittarius and Neptune at 5 Pisces, in sextile to Saturn and semisextile Neptune. The square in and of itself suggests a harshly conservative (Saturn) mindset bordering on insanity (Neptune), and religious zealotry (Neptune) linked with death (Saturn). In the aftermath, the Mercury/Venus combination well depicts the outpouring of popular support (Venus) for free speech (Mercury), an aspect which became exact on Sunday when the massive rally was held.
Mars at 26 Aquarius is rapidly approaching the exact midpoint of the Uranus/Pluto square, roughly semisquare to each. This increases the likelihood of violence occurring during this period, with an emphasis on guns and military-style assault, as well as the execution-style killings themselves, with Charlie Hebdo’s editor and contributors shot deliberately in the head, not gunned down in a random spray of bullets.
So much for the essentials of the event, the basics any astrologer can tell you. Let’s pop open the lid on this story and see what asteroids and minor planets have to reveal. Before we’re done we’ll see the killers, the victims, the magazine, the country, city, even the street where the massacre occurred, all displayed in bold relief in the placement of these “minor” points.
Let’s begin with the overall target of the attack, Charlie Hebdo magazine, the “What?’, as it were, of our inquiry into the event. There’s no asteroid referent for “Hebdo”, but “Charlie” can be seen in two variants, Charlier (#8677) and Charlene (#5878), a feminine form of Charles, for which of course “Charlie” is a nickname. Of these, Charlier is most prominent, appearing at 29 Capricorn, in exact conjunction with asteroid Karma. This is extremely significant, as Karma is the force by which we reap the results of our actions, and the attack was the direct result of the magazine’s prior publishing decisions. Let’s be clear—this isn’t to say Charlie Hebdo had it coming; obviously murder is never an appropriate response to a cartoon. But it also can’t be denied that if they had not published material which Islamist extremists found offensive, they wouldn’t have been targeted.
As if to emphasize the way in which Karma would express itself, Charlier/Karma is closely tailed by asteroid Rip (#7711) at 28 Capricorn, which has been found to function reliably as a death indicator, based on its resonance with the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription. Death certainly made a bold appearance at the Charlie Hebdo editorial meeting, and was the consequence of the prior acts, albeit unmerited. Additionally, these three lie within orb of the Mercury/Venus conjunction at 3 and 4 Aquarius, tying them directly to major planetary energies of the moment, and bringing our focus to the fact that the business was a popular (Venus) publication (Mercury).
Asteroid Charlene appears in significant position also, and links us to our next interrogatory, “Where?” For at 21 Gemini, asteroid Charlene falls in close conjunction with asteroid Paris (#3317) at 20 Gemini, indicating the city where Charlie Hebdo prospered, and in which the shooting occurred. Charlene/Paris are joined by TNO Chaos at 18 Gemini, a point which, among other things, represents just what it sounds like—anarchy, bedlam, disorder, confusion and, well, just general chaos, something which certainly ensued in the aftermath of the attacks, as intelligence, police and security forces scrambled to identify and locate the perpetrators. These points cluster about the IC at 26 Gemini, giving them angular emphasis and prominence in the story, and also oppose TNO Ixion, representing murder, at 22 Sagittarius, and Atropos, named for the mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death, at 20 Sagittarius.
The country is represented as well. There is no “France” asteroid, but there is a “Franzia” (#862), a close phonetic match, and a “French” (#3506), identifying the ethnicity both of the attackers and those attacked. Franzia falls at 11 Taurus, exactly squared the 11 Leo Moon; this suggests a strong identification with the event by the population (Moon) of France (Franzia), and a gut-churning emotional response (also Moon). Asteroid French falls at 18 Virgo, conjunct the 22 Virgo Descendant from the Sixth House side (daily routines—the editorial meeting was held on the same day and time each week). This angular placement puts the French people front and center in the drama, both at its inception and in the aftermath. Also within orb of the Descendant from the Seventh House side (governing open enemies) is asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 25 Virgo. Once again, in bold, angular relief, we’re seeing the guts of the story—the death (Requiem) of French citizens (French).
So we have the business name, the country, and the city, but we can refine the venue even further. The offices of Charlie Hebdo are at number 10 Rue Nicolas-Appert. There is an asteroid Nicole (#1343), the feminine form of Nicolas, which at 27 Aquarius falls closely conjunct Mars at 26 Aquarius. Together this spells “attack and violent death (Mars) on Nicolas-Appert Street (Nicole).”
Moving on to the “Who?” of the story, we find a dizzying array of celestial stand-ins for this terrestrial tragedy, both attackers and attacked. Let’s begin with the attackers, Said and Cherif Kouachi.
There is no exact match for any of these names, but my years of research have shown me that the cosmos is very obliging in these matters—cognates, homonyms, homophones, even close spellings will work. Even so, when searching for suitable substitutes, I was a bit leery about using “Sharaf” (#5543) for Cherif, and Kochi (#2396) for Kouachi (there is nothing even close to Said). But I plugged them into the chart anyway, and even with all my experience, was amazed to find Sharaf at 16 Capricorn—exactly with the Sun on that Black Hole! Certainly Cherif (Sharaf) Kouachi became the major focus (Sun) of the day, in ways which changed the status quo reality forever (Black Hole).
Asteroid Kochi performed similarly. At 1 Capricorn it is within orb of the MC at 26 Sagittarius and the Galactic Center at 27 Sagittarius, denoting prominence for the Kouachi brothers (Kochi) in the moment (MC) and their subsequent global recognition (GC). Kochi is also exactly squared to the supermassive Black Hole at the center of Galaxy M-87 at 1 Libra, the largest anomaly of its type of which we are aware, holding more than 100 subsidiary galaxies in its gravitational thrall. This suggests far-reaching ramifications from the Kouachi’s acts, and unfortunately, the likelihood that their example and its “success” will attract many others to their cause.
Kochi is also squared to asteroid Lachesis at 2 Libra. Lachesis is named for the mythic Greek Fate who determines the span of life, a role the Kouachis certainly took on for 12 victims of their shooting spree. An exact semisextile to Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 1 Sagittarius and a sextile to asteroid Anubis at 2 Pisces, named for the ancient Egyptian deity governing funerary rites, completes Kochi’s connections to death-themed chart points.
Let’s turn now to those attacked. Primary targets were Stephane Charbonnier, 47, Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, and Jean Cabut, 76, its lead cartoonist, both called out by name as the Kouachis entered the staff meeting. After publishing nude cartoons of Mohammad in 2012, Charbonnier described his personal philosophy on the matter of offending Islamists in the name of free speech: “I have neither a wife nor children, not even a dog. But I’m not going to hide. It should be as normal to criticize Islam as it is to criticize Jews or Catholics. I’d rather die than live like a rat.”
Charbonnier is represented by asteroids Stephania (#220) and Stefani (#4624). Stephania appears at 19 Capricorn, conjunct Sun/Sharaf, and still within orb of Pluto, modern ruler of death. Stefani falls at 3 Sagittarius, conjunct Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 1 Sagittarius and squared Anubis at 2 Pisces. As such, Stephane Charbonnier appears trebly marked for death, and his celestial referent stands close beside that of his killer, Cherif Kouachi (Sharaf), while also showing his prominence in the news of the day (Sun).
Jean Cabut is represented by asteroids Jeanne (#1281, feminine version of Jean) and Cabot (#7317, close spelling and pronunciation to Cabut); incredibly, Jeanne is also conjunct Pluto and the Sun/Sharaf combination, from 12 Capricorn, while Cabot at 0 Scorpio is semisextile Saturn and trined to Anubis at 2 Pisces. Both Stefani and Cabot are also in aspect to Neptune (ruling victims) at 5 Pisces, by square and trine respectively.
Also killed were Bernard Verlhac, 57, a cartoonist, and Bernard Maris, 68, an economist and columnist for Charlie Hebdo. Neither man has an asteroid referent for his surname, but there are two to represent the first name they shared: Bernardina (#629) and Bernardi (#27953). Asteroid Bernardina at 5 Aquarius is bound up with the Mercury/Venus conjunction, a perfect fit for individuals whose involvement with the magazine (Mercury) included both artistic efforts and economic advice, each Venus-ruled. But Bernardina is also an exact match for asteroid Tantalus, a point noted for the commission of heinous acts, in sextile to Saturn and exactly semisextile Neptune (fanaticism and victims). Asteroid Bernardi at 1 Gemini exactly opposes Saturn, providing yet another link to the theme of death for individuals resonating to that name.
Among the remaining dead were two more cartoonists, Georges Wolinski (the eldest victim, at age 80) and Philippe Honore, 73; and columnist Elsa Cayat, 54, the only woman killed, targeted because she was Jewish. Georges Wolinkski is represented by asteroid George (#3854), which at 16 Sagittarius conjoins asteroid Atropos (death) at 20 Sagittarius, and is coming into conjunction with Ixion (murder). George is also exactly semisextile the Sun/Sharaf combination.
Philippe Honore has two celestial referents, asteroids Philippa (#977) and Honoria (#236). Philippa at 17 Virgo is conjunct the Descendant at 22 Virgo, trine Pluto/Sun/Sharaf, and squared Ixion. Honoria at 14 Libra closely squares Pluto/Sun/Sharaf and forms a T-Square with Uranus (shootings) at 12 Aries. Elsa Cayat is represented by asteroid Elsa (#182), which at 7 Capricorn straddles the gap between Kochi and Pluto, on their midpoint and broadly conjunct each.
These are the principal individuals directly targeted by the Kouachis. Several others were essentially just in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of these was Mustapha Ourrad, 60, a Charlie Hebdo copy editor. As an employee of the magazine, he was naturally in the line of fire, but he was not one of those specifically named by the Kouachis. He was also a Muslim of Algerian extraction, just like his killers. Asteroid Mustafamahmoud (#296753) is one which, once again, I hesitated to include due to its somewhat tentative relationship to the victim, but at 13 Aries, it fits perfectly into the astrology of the day, conjunct Uranus and squared Pluto/Sun/Sharaf.
Two more victims were a visitor attending the meeting, Michel Renaud, 69, invited to the magazine as guest editor, and Charbonnier’s police bodyguard, Brigadier Franck Brinsolaro, 49. Michel Renaud is represented by asteroid Michel (#1348), which at 25 Aquarius conjoins Mars at 26, suggesting a violent death, and by asteroid Michelle (#1376, feminine version of Michel), which at 26 Capricorn conjoins Rip at 28 and the Charlier/Karma combo at 29, reiterating the theme of death for Michel and drawing him into Charlie Hebdo’s karmic web. There is also an asteroid Guest (#4325), which at 7 Capricorn falls within orb of Pluto and is squared to Uranus. Brinsolaro is represented by asteroid Franck (#4546), which at 6 Leo is conjunct asteroid Osiris, named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, at 8 Leo and the Moon at 11 Leo.
First to be killed was Frederic Boisseau, 42, a maintenance contractor for the office building whom the Kouachis shot while gaining entrance to the building. He is represented by asteroid Fredrick (#41943), which at 21 Sagittarius falls precisely between Atropos (death) at 20 Sagittarius and Ixion (murder) at 22 Sagittarius.
The last victim was police officer Ahmed Merabet, ironically, another Muslim of Algerian descent, detailed to the Charlie Hebdo neighborhood. The first officer on the scene, he was shot and wounded as the Kouachis left the building, then they doubled back to shoot the 42-year-old execution-style in the head, as he lay pleading for his life. This murder was caught live by amateur photographers, and shortly released by news outlets and on the Internet. Merabet is represented by asteroid Ahmed (#16113), which at 17 Taurus is trined Pluto/Sun/Sharaf and squared the Moon and Nemesis.
Although not directly involved in the Charlie Hebdo attack, confederate Amedy Coulibaly, who shot Paris policewoman Clarissa Jean-Philippe the following morning, and then went on to kill four at the hostage siege in the kosher supermarket on Friday, also has a strong resonance with the massacre chart, as well as in the nativities of the Kouachi brothers. Represented by asteroid Amedee (#14012), he appears at 29 Libra, exactly squared Charlier/Karma at 29 Capricorn and also squared Rip at 28 Capricorn.
Officer Jean-Philippe has perhaps one of the unluckiest names possible, given the stars of the moment. Both Jeanne and Philippa were active in the sky that day, as described above in relation to two of the other victims, while asteroid Clarissa (#302) at 6 Virgo closely opposes Neptune (victims, fanaticism) and squares Saturn (death).
We are “fortunate” to have birth certificate charts for both Kouachis and two of their principal targets, Stephane Charbonnier and Jean Cabut. The interconnections between the Kouachis and the names of their victims are astounding, but too detailed to go into here. However, I will mention several features.
The importance of Charlie Hebdo to their biographies becomes apparent, when we see asteroid Charlier at 11 Cancer exactly conjunct Said Kouachi’s Ascendant, a degree also agitated by the Uranus/Pluto square over the past year. Asteroid Charlene at 22 Virgo conjoins Said’s Jupiter (religious beliefs, political philosophy, fame) at 19 Virgo, Mercury (magazines, free speech) at 24 Virgo, Saturn (death) at 28 Virgo, and broadly conjoins his Sun at 14 Virgo. At 16 Scorpio in Cherif Koauchi’s chart, Charlier conjoins TNO Ixion (murder) exactly, and is within orb of Lachesis (lifespan) at 21 Scorpio and Jupiter at 24 Scorpio. Asteroid Charlene at 2 Taurus exactly conjoins Cherif’s Midheaven, and is also within orb of TNO Chaos at 5 Taurus, opposing natal Saturn at 0 Scorpio.
Asteroid Kochi at 15 Leo in Said’s chart conjoins his natal Moon at 17 Leo (identifying this as his ancestral—Moon—family name), and was conjoined by transit Moon and Nemesis for the shooting. Asteroid Kochi at 27 Capricorn in Cherif’s chart is running in tandem with Tantalus (heinous acts), Rip (death), and Osiris (also death) at 19, 21 and 25 Capricorn, all of course being visited by the transit conjunction of Rip/Charlier/Karma for the massacre.
Amedy Coulibaly’s connections to the brothers are well established astrologically with the placement of asteroid Amedee at 18 Virgo in Said’s chart, within the stellium of Sun/Jupiter/Charlene/Mercury/Saturn. In Cherif’s chart, Amedee falls at 24 Capricorn, in the midst of the Tantalus/Rip/Osiris/Kochi stellium.
Not surprisingly, asteroids representing the magazine where the victims worked and died are also prominent in the charts of Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier and lead cartoonist Jean Cabut. In both cases, these are linked with death indicators, both natally and by transit.
Charbonnier’s natal asteroid Charlier at 3 Scorpio conjoins TNO Ixion at 0 Scorpio, identifying the site as the place of his murder, and was squared by transit Mercury/Venus /Tantalus at his death. Asteroid Charlene at 13 Capricorn is exactly opposed by Requiem at 13 Cancer, with natal Kochi forming a T-Square from 10 Libra, and transit Pluto exact on Charlene for the massacre. Transit Kochi at 1 Capricorn and transit Lachesis at 2 Libra formed a T-Square with natal Paris, the city where he died, at 2 Cancer.
Jean Cabut’s natal Charlier falls at 17 Aquarius, conjunct natal Requiem at 15 Aquarius, broadly squared by natal Rip at 23 Scorpio and more closely squared by transit asteroid Apophis (named for the ancient Egyptian personification of pure evil), from 18 Scorpio, at his death. Natal Charlene lies at 14 Cancer, tightly opposed his editor’s, which exactly conjoined Cabut’s natal Pholus (mass deaths) at 13 Capricorn. This polarity was receiving the conjunction and opposition from transit Pluto when he was murdered. Cabut’s natal asteroid Kochi at 2 Gemini was opposed by transit Saturn (death) when the Kouachi’s killed him. Transit Kochi at 1 Capricorn squared natal Nemesis at 2 Libra, itself conjoined exactly by transit Lachesis.
Despite the Kouachis’ boast that they had killed Charlie Hebdo, the publication goes on. Ironically, one of its cartoonists, Renald Luzier, overslept and missed the staff meeting which took the lives of so many of his co-workers, thus saving his own. He drew up the cover illustration for the next week’s issue, of the prophet Mohammed bearing a sign reading “Je suis Charlie.” In their attempt to extinguish Charlie Hebdo’s irreverence, the Kouachis actually brought more attention to the publication. The magazine’s normal print run is 60,000, but the week following the massacre, Charlie Hebdo produced 3 million copies, which sold out globally within one day.
Vive la Liberte!
Stephane Charbonnier – 8/21/67, 6:30 PM MET, Conflans Ste Honorine, France
Jean Cabut – 1/13/38, 9:20 PM GMT, Chalons sur Marne, France
Said Kouachi – 9/7/80, 1:40 AM MEDT, Paris, France
Cherif Kouachi – 11/29/82, 10:20 PM MET, Paris, France
(All data rated AA from Lois Rodden’s Astro Databank.)