The Charleston Shootings & Saturn Retrograde in Scorpio: You Can’t Deny the Pain

Plutonian and Scorpionic energies have horrible reputations because we haven’t yet as a collective really figured out what to do about pain.

On the face of it, behaviors and choices stemming from those energies within us can be vengeful, lashing out, angry, abusive, violent, retributive, harsh, destructive … you get the idea. And you’ve heard of, witnessed, or participated in such things in some way – none of us can escape the truth of this heavier corner of the human experience.

But if we consider that pain underlies all anger, the doorway to understanding opens. A major part of Scorpionic journeys is a ton of “whys?!” asked in the face of trying to get why people do the awful things that we do.

Why did that guy in Charleston shoot up that church? Why did he murder 9 people? Was it religious? Racial?

Why did he do that?

We need to know. For some of us, we’re intensely curious because we don’t relate to the urge to commit violence from any stance and can’t imagine doing such a thing. Others are intensely curious about what could possibly make anyone do it. Others get that people are capable of doing anything (reference any book containing what we call history that’s not written from a modern ultraconservative, head-in-the-sand, myopic, faith-based, xenophobic standpoint) yet are curious about the reason.

The short of it is that each of us has curiosity about why people do what they do. I’m a Scorpio and have had this going on in me for as long as I can remember, and my Sagittarius Mercury-Moon at the edge of the 3rd house has had me employ a variety of avenues to getting answers. Evolutionary astrology is the best tool I’ve found so far because it (when done through the filter of an ascended master’s amazing, unbridled mind) explains how over the course of many lives, humans’ emotional bodies are imprinted by experiences that impact us emotionally.

And so, in short, this guy shot up that church and killed 9 people because he didn’t know what to do with his deep feelings of pain that became anger, resentment, projection, and violence.

That’s it. That’s why he did it.

Dylann Roof Natal Chart
Dylann Roof Natal Chart

Looking at his chart, retro Pluto in Scorpio conjunct the Scorpio North Node (NN). In many lives, he’s never taught how to do Pluto in an honest way that transforms pain into love. The NN is about what our souls have us leave out in many lives so that we can learn to embrace it. Planets on the NN often mean that positive examples of the energy are missing in the families in which we are born and/or raised.

Nessus is there, too. Living in two worlds – being animal and socialized – is the Nessus deal. People with Nessus issues don’t know how to appropriately direct, funnel, or channel intense feeling into healthy outlets. Sometimes you’ll read that alcoholism and incest/molestation are present when Nessus is active, and I invite you to see those situations as indicative of an inability or lack of training or imagination re managing emotion, desire, and other intense feelings. Nessus on the NN means in many lives he’s wondering what to do with intense desire anger and, when pain is happening, with this signature it’s not abnormal to act out violently because you don’t have healthy models of what to do.

Retro Chiron in Virgo is square the nodes of the Moon. When Chiron is square the nodes, our conception of and relationship to wounding and healing needs adjusting and upgrading. We might know 4 of the 7 key things, and when we habitually rely on what we do know about it, we get ourselves into trouble through being something other than creative and present.

Chiron is about how we deal with our own suffering and that of other people. Because this is square the nodes of the Moon, it’s an issue in his karmic field (= emotional body) as well as that of the families into which he’s born and/or raised in many lives.

We are constantly reacting due to the imprinting on our emotional bodies. This is the key to understanding human behavior, not psychological approaches about complexes and disorders. This is also the key to understanding how to upgrade the human experience and create better, more connected, more meaningful, and more fulfilling lives because once we understand what hurts deep under the surface, we can begin to intentionally change the beliefs (karma) connected to those pains, losses, griefs, abandonments, and disappointments.

Did this guy have to shoot 9 people in a church? No. Does his chart say he is likely to? No, of course not. Charts say no such thing. But connecting that anger stems from pain and then seeing that this guy is in many lives not taught how to deal with intense emotions including pain that can evolve into reactivity, aggression, or violence, we shouldn’t be surprised – it’s one kind of angry explosion from pain that humans sometimes choose.

More in the chart: South Node in Taurus can indicate conservatism. It’s conjunct Ceres, so the influence of parental figures looms large. If it’s about racism, then we should expect to find racism in the family of origin. The same if it’s about religion or about the date June 17th or people who site in row seats in old buildings or anything else.

The SN ruler Venus is also in Taurus, conjunct Vesta in late Aries. Vesta is about devotion and taking something extremely seriously. It adds what I call a sense of religiosity to what it touches. SN ruler conjunct Vesta means he in many lives is looking for and will adopt a cause to champion, and this is in Aries – he’s no stranger to the perception that he has to fight for what he holds dear. He’s a Taurus figure (SN ruler Venus in Taurus) with an Aries-style devotion, that devotion is ruled by Mars, the god of war.

But did he have to shoot 9 people in a church because they had brown skin? No, of course not.

When people do things like this, I argue that they feel they have no other choice. Especially when Vesta is involved, by the way. Vesta makes everything serious to the point that you would never do it halfway.

Transiting Saturn passed over his Nessus-SN-Pluto months ago, putting pressure on him to do something about his intense feelings. Saturn retrograding into Scorpio recently brings it close to his Pluto again, where it was approaching (by about 2 degrees) at the time of the shootings. Saturn asks us to do something, to mobilize and get off our butts and make something happen. That it was violence was not a foregone conclusion, but fits the image of a pressure cooker losing its structural integrity from the force and abundance of internal pressure that Saturn transiting natal Pluto can inspire. In its recent entrance to and then station in early Sagittarius, Saturn also squared his natal Chiron square the nodes, making for some grinding away at what hurts and the internal pain that feels inescapable. Chiron represents an inner infant shaped by rejection, after all.

This isn’t a full chart analysis, but it touches on some key indicators of Roof’s multilife karmic journey. Ideally, I’ve given you some breadcrumbs that may lead to consideration of the notion of evil, as we can be driven to do awful things when we are emotionally messed up and lack tools to heal and get ourselves straight.

Each of us can do horrible things. In some lives, I guarantee that every single one of us has. We can be painted into corners or feel our survival threatened, and we can use all kinds of reasoning to justify what we’ve done. Consider that you might now be healing some kind of pressure-cooker situation that another life associated with your soul is experiencing elsewhere on the timeline. Have compassion for yourself as you are a human on a long-term journey to deal with emotions and act from love and not fear, and do what you can to have compassion for all others, too, as we are all in precisely the same boat.

Tom Jacobs is an evolutionary astrologer, energy worker, and channel with a global practice of consultations, tutoring, and teaching. 15 books, 2 natal reports, a wealth of astrology and channeled audio, and programmed/charged crystals for healing and meditation including the new onyx pieces for Plutonian issues of all kinds are available via