Dealing with a chart of a person that has been killed brutally, emerges an awareness of how vulnerable we are to the other people and life’s circumstances at its extremes. As for astrology, we are vulnerable to transits, but is not correct to say that a transit necessarily ‘kill’ us, it is wise to consider carefully what has been triggered the chart, what make us vulnerable to the dangerous situations or a surprising death. It is easy to scare people away saying that hard transits in the chart via big planets are the cause of our most undesirable death, it is not healthy and it is surely an ego trip from the astrologer.
First things first. I have heard the sad and horrible story about the death of Matthew Shepard today, a classical history of bigotry, hate and with homophobic intent. In the LGBT world, it is easy to live in fear all the time, you don’t know if the next person is full of hate and inclined to kill, or just someone who really identifies with you. We as humans are expected to fulfill society expectations on a social level, and that includes sexuality, our partners must have your age, your skin color, the opposite of your gender, etc. An ignorant list of ‘must do/be’ that traditional people want to follow blindly without questioning their own needs and natural pulls. Entering slowly the Aquarius age, the social justice is about to put a prominent turn around on these peculiar matters, shocking the immutable beliefs that were once considered a taboo, however, for that to happen; sometimes a revolution of values must take place worldly, and I believe that is already happening for some years now. Unfortunately, until today, if a person doesn’t fit the ‘regular’ society extreme expectations, it is an easy target of hate and crime. Matthew has had a short life well lived, but one that has caused an upheaval in the gay community, but not only that, any kind of crime motivated by hatred, and some people still question why to devote such time to develop rights when the world need much more attention to other things; but then I question “when is ever the right time when the world is always at war?”
Matthew Shepard Background & Astrology
Matthew was born on 1st December 1976 in Casper, Wyoming. A gay male, he was 21 years old when killed by two men, beaten up, robed, pistol-whipped and tortured in a rural area of Laramie, Wyoming, where he was left to die in a fence. His murdered happened sadly 15 years ago exactly today. Matthew Shepard was described by his father as “an optimistic and accepting young man who had a special gift of relating to almost everyone. He was the type of person who was very approachable and always looked to new challenges. Matthew had a great passion for equality and always stood up for the acceptance of people’s differences.” Interesting enough, that the first word he used was optimistic, which is a key word of the sign of Sagittarius, which he had a stellium in the chart, including a Sun/Mars conjunction, Sagittarius is also the sign related to wide connection of people as he had the ability to form easy friendships. There is a great potential for him to have a Moon/Pluto opposition, Pluto was in Libra, and with connecting with the Moon is makes him strongly sensitive to other people’s feelings, and with Libra, it encourages him to stand up for the others who cannot do it by themselves. As more I could say about his stellium here is an extract from his official website:
“The story of Matthew Shepard begins on December 1, 1976 when he was born prematurely to Judy and Dennis Shepard in the small city of Casper, Wyoming. Matthew attended school in Casper until his junior year of high school when he finished his primary education at The American School in Switzerland. His experience abroad fueled his love for travel. He took the opportunity to explore Europe and learn multiple languages including German and Italian… Matthew’s college career took him to a number of different universities and later ended up studying political science, foreign relations and languages at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. He was extremely interested in politics and was chosen as the student representative for the Wyoming Environmental Council.”
Travelling, foreign relations, experience abroad, languages, politics, travel, etc. – all of them are key words of the Sagittarius and Gemini axes. It is interesting to observe that the short life he had, it was fully lived by his stellium which was prominent in his chart. Still, stellium is difficult to read while there are many planets involved, which brings different archetypes, attitudes and characteristics in only one area of life. Shepard was a very Sagittarian gal, which sometimes lead him to be overconfidence and perhaps too optimistic to the point of being careless and tactless, leading him to be over disappointed with people and situation, especially with Neptune (illusion) being part of that potent stellium, and with Mars in the game, a violence act could also be encouraged afterwards. An example of his stellium being played out badly, during a transit of Jupiter in the stellium and transiting Pluto opposing his natal Jupiter, it was that he was attracted to a situation in a trip with the high School to Morocco in February 1995, where he was beaten and raped, developing a long-term depression and panic attacks, according to his mother, Pluto and Jupiter touches can be rough and attract experiences that are out of ordinary in abundance that changes us forever to the core, and with Jupiter is a matter of a deep change of everything we believe in and our faith in the universe, Matthew would have then felt threatened by the world, felt helpless to the point that saw the drugs as a channel of scape, since that year Jupiter also crossed his Neptune – the planet of scape of reality, after this life change experience, Shepard then became addicted to drugs since this coward act, a friend stated, hardly had he known that 3 years later the violence act against him could repeat with a dead end. The year before in November 1994, there was a lunar eclipse at 24 Taurus, making a conjunction to his Jupiter, compromising his lack of luck that winter as eclipses usually means a transition or end of things in motion.
Unfortunately we don’t have his birth time available, making it harder to watch closely the transits trough his ascendant and the other major houses. However, we can still count on the eclipses, progressions, long-term transits and daily ones to his natal chart. Besides his powerful stellium, Shepard also had a gran trine formed by the possible Moon in middle Aries and Saturn in Leo, to all his stellium planets: Mars, Sun, Neptune and a wide trine to Mercury all in Sagittarius. A powerful but lazy grand trine in Fire signs, so whatever a planet transits his stellium, it would automatically activates his grand trine, and with Saturn involved, it would be completely significant as a tester in his life. That would also indicate he felt easily in tuned with the drugs as it would give him an illusory scape, the trines in a chart you have to work it out consciously, otherwise is just a lazy energy read to lay down the whole day, as the grand trine also indicates our faith and hope, his grand trine was shocked by the terrible experience he had on February 1995, making him to believe everything was a conspiracy against him despite his natural high optimism. To get even worst, one of his friends later added that Shepard was HIV positive, making him suicidal, and having that in mind it probably provoked him psychologically to the point he wouldn’t matter where he would be the next day, so he let an automatic behavior lead him to a careless attitude, where he ended up badly. All that said, still, the trine could have helped him to move on with his studies and his life despite the negative happenings.
The Murder & Astrology
We never think something bad could happen with us until it does happen; changing deeply our sense of self, life becomes abstract and surreal. We want to grab to something higher than ourselves, wanting to escape the real world for a better lie than life itself, believing the universe is waving against us, casting a spell to change the world, we think the world has changed when what have been changed were actually us. Society can ruin our lives when we are vulnerable. Wikipedia says:
“On the night of October 6–7, 1998, Shepard met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming. It was decided that McKinney and Henderson would give Shepard a ride home. McKinney and Henderson subsequently drove the car to a remote, rural area and proceeded to rob, pistol-whip, and torture Shepard, tying him to a fence and leaving him to die. According to their court testimony, McKinney and Henderson also discovered his address and intended to steal from his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard, who was still alive but in a coma, was discovered 18 hours later by Aaron Kreifels, a cyclist who initially mistook Shepard for a scarecrow.”
Shepard had Moon in Aries (when he was born, the Moon was in Aries all day), indicating he was extremely innocent to people and situation, with Pluto opposing it, it intensifies his amazing ability to live life emotionally at its best. In Matthew progressed chart for the day of his murder, he had a forming T-square involving Venus in Aquarius opposing Saturn in Leo squaring Uranus in Scorpio, a fixed configuration that could repeat what has already been imaginable. The apex planet of such configuration is the one who receives the energy frustration from the opposite planets. With Uranus in Scorpio at the apex of the configuration, representing a suddenly stress trough his sexuality (Scorpio), unfortunately we cannot see in what house this was happening, with Venus opposing Saturn, would amplify the limitations with relationships, so he would try it consistently until someone could open heart to him as he was desperate to find someone who he could hang out with. It is said that when the 2 mans were driving him to the rural area, Shepard was too drunk and put his hand on McKinney’s leg, provoking a violence reaction from one of the murder, McKinney was on meth that night, pulsing him to keep beating him up even after Shepard gave him his wallet. From abcnews:
“Shepard was sitting at the bar, McKinney recalls. “He said he was too drunk to go home. And then he asked me if I’d give him a ride. So I thought, yeah, sure, what the hell,” according to McKinney.
All three got in the front seat of McKinney’s pickup, and Henderson took the wheel. McKinney told police that at some point Shepard reached over and grabbed his leg. In response, McKinney said, he hit him with his pistol. “I was getting ready to pull it on him anyway,” he said.”
What most intrigued me was that, he had transiting Pluto conjunction his Mars by the year of 1998. Such a conjunction at its worst, brings dangerous and bloody (Mars) scenarios to the individual, tragic events tends to happen specially if the person if vulnerable as Shepard was showing some evidence of a death wish. This contact is often showed in charts of cold murders, also the victims, people with this conjunction attract cruel people to their lives:
“Mars-Pluto is definitely a violent aspect. It is one of the rape aspects, either Mars conjunct, square, or opposite Pluto. I always worry about these aspects because it is important to use this energy up properly, otherwise it could manifest in a negative way…The other thing that can happen with a Mars/Pluto aspect is abuse, battery, or violence.” – By Carol Rushman – The Art of Predictive Astrology
Astrologers have been conservative about this aspect in many ways, as they see it in charts of abused children and woman. Despite the awful meaning for Mars/Pluto conjunction, there is a bright side of it which was not the case in Matthew story. Shepard was pronounced dead at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998 in Colorado.
2 months earlier the murder, there were a lunar eclipse in Leo conjunction Shepard natal Saturn, indicating that his story was to be a lesson to society. Transiting Pluto was also activating his grand trine coming from the Moon (public and the mother) and Saturn (authorities/law enforcement). Although some still disagree that Shepard lesson didn’t change the way people relate to hate, it indeed caused some changed in America (Wikipedia):
“Henderson and McKinney were not charged with a hate crime, because no Wyoming criminal statute provided for such a charge. The nature of Shepard’s murder led to requests for new legislation addressing hate crime, urged particularly by those who believed that Shepard was targeted on the basis of his sexual orientation. Under then United States federal law and Wyoming state law, crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation were not prosecutable as hate crimes.”
Later on the request was denied, but in 2009 president Obama (Saturn) signed the measure into law on October 28. The aftermath was a documentary of his life, a book, a new legislation, musician making music inspired by him counting Lady Gaga performing Elton John’s music from the murder, a play and 3 narrative films, The Lamarie Project and the first openly homosexual NBA Player, Jason Collins, wore the jersey number “98” in honor of Shepard during the 2012–2013 season with the Boston Celtics (Wikipedia). Nowadays Matthew’s mother (Moon) is well-known in the LGBT rights as a great advocate relating to youth sexuality.
McKinney was convicted of first-degree felony murder and second-degree murder in the 1998 beating death of Shepard. The 2 murders were received with two life sentences.
“I would like nothing better than to see you die Mr. McKinney, but now is the time to heal,” Shepard’s father told the 22-year-old roofer. “Every time you wake up in your cell, remember you had the opportunity or the ability to stop your actions that night.
“Mr. McKinney, you will not become a symbol,” the elder Shepard continued. “Just a miserable symbol and a more a more miserable end. That’s fine with me.”
For more of his history: