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  EDITOR'S CHOICE ARTICLES Dec/Jan 2001-02 Issue  

The Day the World Changed: The Terrorist Attacks of September 11 and the U.S. Retaliation
Compiled by Tem Tarriktar

The monumental and tragic events of September 11, 2001 have elicited much intelligent analysis and debate among astrologers who, like everyone else, are trying to process and understand these horrible attacks on the United States. This article attempts to show some basic astrological correlations with what happened, based partly on my own observations but mostly a compilation of what I have read online on message boards and heard in my discussions with other astrologers. (1) Our hearts go out to readers who were directly affected by these attacks, especially those in New York City.

How can astrology contribute to our understanding of this savage attack on innocent people? There are almost as many ways to approach the astrology of an event like this as there are astrologers. These approaches range from looking at the basic symbolism of Saturn opposing Pluto to examining the aspects between specialized asteroids and hypothetical planets.

Of course, no astrologer could have imagined the nightmare scenario that unfolded, and no one predicted it. A few general astrological predictions were on the mark, in terms of envisioning the United States heading toward war, but nobody chose September 11 as the date of a major disaster on U.S. soil.(2)

Saturn-Pluto Shocks the World

In hindsight, the symbolism of the Saturn-Pluto opposition accurately describes the tragic events. Ruthless religious extremists (Pluto in Sagittarius) used aircraft as projectiles (Sagittarius is an archer) to destroy (Pluto) the Twin Towers (Gemini) in the financial (Saturn) heart of a large city (Gemini), damaging many other buildings (Saturn), transforming (Pluto) life as we know it, slowing the economy (Saturn), inhibiting travel (Saturn in Gemini), and paving the way for major increases in security (Saturn). Two cities were targeted with two planes each (Gemini). All the terrorists were foreigners (Sagittarius).

The WTC Attack Chart

The chart most widely used by the astrological community is the chart for the moment when the first airliner struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. This happened at 8:46 a.m. EDT, according to seismic records. It seems to me that this chart is also the one to use for any war or military action that grows out of this attack, although one could argue that the world did not realize this was an intentional attack until the second tower was hit at 9:03 a.m., with 17°43’ Libra rising.

A horoscope cast for September 11 at 8:46 a.m. in Manhattan (see Chart 1) shows Mercury exactly on the Libra Ascendant, with chart-ruler Venus at 18°24' Leo – the August 1999 "Nostradamus" solar eclipse degree (18°21’ Leo). This lends support to the theory that eclipse degrees remain sensitive for years. (3) Venus also shows up in this event as the outpouring of compassion, generous support, and solidarity from Americans and from countries all over the world. Many of us were deeply moved by the intense love that was expressed in the days following the attack – even during the attack, as victims called their loved ones. Of course, everyone was disturbed and unsettled at the same time – Venus was opposed by Uranus in the attack chart.

The prominence of Mercury is to be expected, because this was the most compelling news event in our lifetime – certainly since television came into widespread use. In the attack chart, Mercury and the Ascendant most closely aspected Saturn and Pluto, suggesting that transportation or communication devices would be central to the event, and of course both were – aircraft and cell phones. Mercury was at a critical point in its cycle: the entry into its upcoming zone of retrogradation (see diagram). It does not leave this zone until November 7, when it crosses into Scorpio.

The Sun in Virgo in the 12th house may represent the victims (mostly office workers) and the rescue personnel, many of whom died in service to the public. This Virgo Sun was connected to Mars and Uranus by a septile pattern (360° divided by 7). Elevated Jupiter in Cancer was square Mercury, leading some astrologers to note that everything about this event was huge: the buildings, the intense fires, the destruction, the heroism, and the impact on relations with other countries.

Finally, when the 8:46 a.m. attack chart is cast for New York City or for Washington, D.C., Saturn is in the 9th house and Pluto is on the cusp of the 3rd. But when a chart for that same moment is cast for Kabul, Afghanistan, Pluto is exactly on the Midheaven, with Saturn close to the IC.

The Fuse: Moon–Mars–Nodes at Recent Eclipse Degree Axis

The terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. were the result of many years of planning, but the devastating events all occurred within a few hours. When things happen suddenly and with great force, look to Mars as the planetary catalyst. Mars and the South Node together in Capricorn accurately symbolize a strategically planned attack. Mars was "out of bounds" – at extreme south declination – which can make for wild, uncontrollable aggression. Mars at 1°26’ Capricorn was also opposite the recent June 21 solar eclipse in the first degree of Cancer, and the void-of-course Moon in late Gemini was only 3° from opposing Mars. Remember that Mars went retrograde between May 11 and July 19, 2001, from 29° Sagittarius to 15° Sagittarius. Both of these degrees are strongly connected to the attack chart.

Many astrologers, especially Vedic astrologers, foresaw this "triggering" of the eclipse degree by Mars, Moon, and the nodes as a nasty combination and a potential problem. But who could have known how much dynamite was attached to this fuse?

Lunar Occultations and Jupiter–Saturn

On September 10, at 8:50 a.m. EDT, the Moon eclipsed (passed in front of) Saturn at 14°43’ Gemini. This is known as an occultation and can be viewed as a powerful conjunction because it occurs in both longitude and latitude. This was 24 hours before the first attack; 14°+ Libra was rising in both charts. The day after the attacks, at 8:32 a.m. EDT, the Moon conjoined and eclipsed Jupiter, as 12°+ of Libra was rising in New York City, with Mercury at 15°29’ Libra. It is amazing that the attack came only ten minutes before the Moon reached exactly 28°10’ Gemini, the midpoint of Saturn and Jupiter. The Moon began occulting Saturn (with every conjunction that it made to that planet) in June 2001 and will continue to do so through December 28, 2001.

Saturn and Uranus Cycles

The last time that Uranus was at its "attack position" (21°50’ Aquarius) was in 1917 when the U.S. joined the First World War.

Saturn was at 14°45’ Gemini on September 11, 2001. Saturn was at this position in 1972-73 (Vietnam/Watergate), in May 1943 (World War II), and in 1913-14 (at the beginning of World War I).

Saturn and Uranus last made a conjunction in 1988, and they did so three times, at 27°50’- 29°55’ Sagittarius. During the 1988 election, President George Bush, a Gemini Sun, talked about a "New World Order." The Moon was at 28°- 29° Gemini (opposed these Saturn-Uranus conjunction degrees) during the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. George Bush’s son, George W. Bush, is a Cancer Sun; he is building an anti-terrorism coalition of countries that will likely form the framework of this New World Order. One of the interpretations of Saturn-Uranus combinations is limiting freedoms, and another is awakening security issues. We can all see that coming.

The U.S. and NYC charts

The whole question of which chart is most relevant for the United States is very controversial, and the proponents of each of about nine versions of this chart are all very certain their chart works best. The most widely used charts, as far as I know, are: (1) the July 4, 1776 chart with 12°+ Sagittarius rising, known as the "Sibly" chart (and a variation of this chart using 13°+ Sagittarius rising, endorsed by Dane Rudhyar); (2) a July 4, 1776 chart with 7°+ Gemini rising, promoted by Evangeline Adams; (3) the "Scorpionic America" chart rectified by David Solté for November 15, 1777 in York, Pennsylvania, with 22°03’ Aquarius rising (sometimes called the Articles of Confederation chart). These three charts, and some of the others, share certain degree areas of sensitivity, as might be expected.

In the two July 4 charts mentioned here, the current Saturn-Pluto opposition is across the Ascendant-Descendant axis. In fact, transiting Pluto at the attack was within half a degree of the Sibly Ascendant; I have read claims that this Pluto transit (and Sibly’s Saturn positioned at 14° Libra) "removes all doubt" about the Sibly chart. But in the Scorpionic America chart, the Saturn-Pluto opposition is near the MC-IC axis, with transiting Saturn at the attack conjunct the U.S. 4th-house Uranus. At the same time, Uranus was transiting this chart’s Aquarius Ascendant – exact on September 5 and again on December 22, 2001. Also, secondary progressed Mars and (true) North Node were applying to a conjunction at 29°+ Gemini (15-minute orb) on the day of the attack.

It is clear that an event of this magnitude, affecting the country as deeply as it has, must show up strongly in any valid chart for the U.S. Some astrologers believe there is more than one valid U.S. chart and that various versions of the U.S. chart work well for different astrologers because of the sensitive degree areas that these charts share. Some astrologers believe that finding the historically accurate moment of "birth" for the U.S. isn’t as important as discovering a chart that works as a divinatory tool.

The charts for New York City and the opening of the World Trade Center must, of course, be considered; they are discussed in detail elsewhere in this issue. It is noteworthy that the World Trade Center, which opened in April 1973, was having its first Saturn return on September 11. When the WTC was bombed in February 1993, transiting Saturn was square Pluto. At the opposition, the towers were completely destroyed, costing the city nearly 6,000 lives and more than $100 billion.

October 7: The U.S. Attack on Afghanistan

At 12:20 p.m. EDT in Washington, D.C., explosions were first reported near Kabul (8:50 p.m. local time). It is amazing to see the connections between this chart, the chart of the WTC attack, and the June-July 2001 eclipses (see Chart 2).

The Full Moon of October 2, cast for Kabul, has Mars on the MC opposed Jupiter on the IC – setting the stage for this military response. On October 7, the transiting Sun reached the Ascendant of the WTC attack chart and formed a t-square with Mars and Jupiter, unleashing the bombs. Transiting Mars was precisely on the IC of the WTC attack chart, and the Sun-Jupiter square also conjoined angles. This planetary combination does not usually show much restraint, although the Sun-Saturn trine helps to limit the loss of life. Launching the military retaliation during Mercury retrograde indicates the danger of incorrect intelligence or other communications snafus.

It came as no surprise that President Bush chose to act at a moment when the Saturn-Pluto opposition was prominent. The position of the Moon during the U.S. retaliation was 13°31’ Gemini, applying to a conjunction with Saturn at 14°51’ Gemini and opposing Pluto. (The asteroids Vesta and Pallas were also at 13°+ Gemini and Sagittarius, respectively.) The bombing started exactly one lunar cycle after the Moon-Saturn occultation (at 14°43’ Gemini), which preceded the WTC attack, and a few hours before the Moon again eclipsed Saturn.

There is further support for the relevance of the June 2001 solar eclipse: The first U.S. attack on Kabul came as the true North Node was at 0°08’ Cancer, only 2 minutes of arc from the eclipse degree. The July 5, 2001 lunar eclipse was at 13°38’ Capricorn, adding power to the October 7 t-square of Sun-Mars-Jupiter at middle degrees of the cardinal signs.

The Preliminary Outlook: Sensitive Dates

The Saturn-Pluto opposition, now clearly associated with "the war on terrorism," will be exact again on November 2, 2001 and, finally, on May 25, 2002. But those may not be the critical dates. When Saturn opposed Pluto on August 5 (part one of a three-part process), these planets were at 12°37’ Gemini and Sagittarius. Pluto had backed up, turned direct on August 23, and reached 12°37’ again on the night before the September 11 attacks! Saturn retrogrades back to 12°37’ on November 19, 2001 and reaches this spot again on April 22, 2002. However, any date when the zone of 12°-16° Gemini-Sagittarius is activated by transits of the Sun, Moon, Mars, or Mercury could be eventful. Also, the angles of the WTC attack chart (14°+ Libra-Aries, 16°+ Cancer-Capricorn) appear to be very sensitive to transits.

The middle of January 2002 also looks difficult: Mars passes over 0° Aries (again triggering the June 2001 solar eclipse degree), while the Sun and Venus conjoin near the U.S. Pluto. May 26-28, 2002 has a lunar eclipse at 5°04’ Sagittarius, with Mars crossing over 0° Cancer and the Moon joining Chiron in the first few degrees of Capricorn. Then, the solar eclipse of June 10, 2002 takes place at 19°54’ Gemini, very close to Saturn and the North Node of the Moon at 18° Gemini and, of course, opposing Pluto at 16° Sagittarius. In Robert Hand’s recent TMA article, he pointed out that both the Libra 2001 Ingress chart and the Aries Ingress chart of March 2002 show Mars to be especially active, as it is near the MC and squares the Ascendant in Washington, D.C. In the Astro*Carto*Graphy map for the Aries Ingress (not shown here), the following lines run through Afghanistan and Pakistan: Sun-IC; Moon-DSC; Saturn-DSC; Pluto-ASC. In that light, we should not expect hostilities in that area to cease before June 2002.

Readers are invited to check out the Planet Tracks section for more relevant articles. You can also share your views on our message boards, as events unfold.


1. I noticed that these connections and correlations were usually posted by more than one person, making the origin of specific ideas on these public message boards difficult to determine. Everyone who participated in these online discussions deserves credit for contributing to this article.

2. Many readers will remember the article by Jim Shawvan in the April/May 2001 issue of TMA, which pinpointed the area of the world where President Bush was likely to be engaged in conflict – Afghanistan and Pakistan. Shawvan also predicted the likelihood of U.S. involvement in a war in mid January and mid July 2002. In the Aug./Sept. 2001 issue of TMA, Rob Hand picked the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 2001-2002, especially the quarter starting with the Libra equinox 2001 and/or the Aries equinox 2002, as times that are more likely to lead to war.

3. The actual path of totality for that eclipse started just off the coast of New England, crossed the Atlantic, ran through southern England, northern France, Switzerland, Austria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and India.

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