The Navy Yard Shootings and the Via Combusta

A question from a reader prompted me to look at the role of the Via Combusta (the ‘burnt way’) in the Navy Yard shootings chart (September 16, 2013, around 8:20 AM Washington, DC).

Inception of shootings at Navy Yard, 16 September 2013, around 8:20 AM

Inception of shootings at Navy Yard, 16 September 2013, around 8:20 AM  (If the incident began shortly after 8 AM, the cusps of the event chart would be about 3 degrees earlier than the ones displayed in the 8:20 AM chart.

The Via Combusta is one of the less clear concepts in horary astrology. It is given several different sets of boundaries in the literature. Various authors say that it represents and area of unpredictability, fear, instability, or even a combustible situation. Olivia Barclay in Horary Astrology Rediscovered wrote that a chart with the Moon in this location (15 Libra – 15 Scorpio) should be discarded as unreadable because it is unable to give a valid answer.

The recent shootings in Washington began with the ASC in Libra (Sep 16, 2013, around 8:20 AM) and ASC-ruler Venus conjunct Saturn and the Moon’s North Node in the first decan of Scorpio (in the Via Combusta). Venus also rules the 8th cusp of death. It occurred on a Moon day during a Saturn hour, with Saturn being the Almuten of the ASC. In this case the ASC-ruler and almuten of the ASC (Venus and Saturn, respectively) are conjunct in Scorpio in the Via Combusta. The symbolism of a combustible situation certainly applies as do the notions of fear, instability and unpredictability.

Morin believed that aspect to house cusps were significant.  In this case, Venus (ASC-ruler and 8th-ruler) opposes the 8th house cusp.  Saturn (almuten of the ASC) also opposes the cusp of the 8th house of death.  Mars disposes the Venus/Saturn conjunction and also squares it, adding to the combustible nature of the event.

A good review of the Via Combusta concept by Ryhan Butler can be found at  This author suggests that ” the basis of this particular area of the Zodiac seems to come from this being a very unfortunate place for the Sun and Moon.  The Sun takes his Fall in Libra and the Moon takes hers in Scorpio,” and concludes:

“As for horary application, it is generally considered a consideration for judgment if the Moon is in the Burnt Path.  Bonatti tells us to make sure we understand the question completely before going forward, though the questions asked with the Moon in the Via Combusta will not go well and is an automatically negative testimony.  It is also considered a place of extreme distress of the querent who is very much troubled by the question.”

Addendum:  New Fact Emerge

Officials are now reporting that Mr. Alexis began shooting earlier than 8:20 AM but after 8:00 AM.  Thus, the chart for the incident could have cusps about 3 degrees earlier than they appear in the 8:20 chart, that is, an ASC about 8 Libra and an MC about 9 Capricorn.  Astrologically, this makes since since it would make Pluto angular, exactly on the IC, at 8:04:51 AM — a perfect symbol for the violent rage expressed in the event.

According to NBC News (Sep. 19, 2013):

“Officials say Alexis, 34, drove onto the base at about 8 a.m. on Monday and parked in a deck across from Building 197.  He then swiped himself into the building using a valid pass and entered carrying a bag. He went to the fourth floor, entered a bathroom and emerged without the bag…”

“Cathy Lanier, chief of police for D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, has said that just two minutes after receiving the first call at 8:21 a.m., two units armed with AR-15 semi-automatic rifles were dispatched to the scene.”

About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
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11 Responses to The Navy Yard Shootings and the Via Combusta

  1. Thanks, Anthony – particularly the part re derivation relating to Fall of Moon in Scorpio and of Sun in Libra. I would also point out that the (technically speaking) VOC Moon in the sign of America’s Sun and in the sign of America’s Moon making an exact square to the asteroid Hygeia (which, even though I see her all the time where there is sickness and death, etc. – a “maiden of perfect health”, daughter of Aesclepius – quasi-historical father/god of medicine) in the 8th house in the sign of the always potentially (this is a sq) “raging bull”, both entities in later 14 fixed (not sure if technically applying or separating, so close is the square), thereby effectively = the World Axis (AP, both effectively 15 fixed) and thereby HYPERACTIVATING to World Attention this “sickness” so as to speak “nationally” to America (again, Aq Moon ruling 12-dg Cancer MC conj American Sun = Jupiter/Pluto = Mercury/Uranus (straddling Asc-Desc, with Mercury ruler of hs XII….and all kinds, obviously, of other things, of courrse.

  2. Typo VOC Moon in sign of America’s Moon, ruling America’s Sun with MC of event on America’s Sun superimpositionally.

  3. james says:

    i am curious to know how a horary astrology technique is supposed to be applied to an event in advance, or is all this just some exploration of a particular technique for the fun of it? if an earlier time is indeed the case, one is left to talk about something else or nothing at all as well!

    • James,

      Someone had recently asked me about the Via Combusta and I realized in this chart that the Burnt Way was highly prominent. Although the concept is mainly used in horary astrology, it seemed to me that it was quite descriptive of the event initiated at this time in Washington, DC. If we wanted to translate the above chart into a horary chart, we might ask ‘What type of event is likely to be initiated at this time in this place?’


      • james says:

        hi tony,
        i saw the previous thread and the conversation that developed on this, so i understand. perhaps the person who initiated the topic is a novice unaware of different types of astrology using different methods and how some of these methods are not automatically transferable.. via combust is defined as a particular 30 degree segment out of a 360 circle – 1/12th the circle.. with 10 or so planets, and a couple of angles as well, the odds of something being in this 1/12th section of the circle are very good..
        my question always comes back to how one applies the technique in some way that has some meaning. plenty of other events would have taken place at the same time as the washington navy yard event.. they would have had much the same data, as this was only one event in a world full of events.. using via combust to frame this event without consideration for the natal chart of the person who was instrumental to this event doesn’t make much sense to me.. one may as well forget about a most important ingredient to the event, and only consider the timing of the event on it’s own, looking for some astro symbolism that goes with it.. it is back framing, hindsight type astrology.. i suppose none of my thought matter either, but it is nice to have a forum to express them, and i appreciate your taking time to explain yours in response..

      • james says:

        here is a link on via combust that is written by andrew bevan which i think it quite good.

  4. James,

    Thanks for the link to Andrew Bevan’s site. I was unaware of it but enjoyed reading his commnents (

    I don’t usually look at the via combusta in events charts but posted this here as an example of the ASC-ruler lying in the via combusta. That said, it has always puzzled me why we restrict certain astrological concepts to particular branches of astrology. If the via combusta is useful in horary and electional astrology, why would it lose its meaning in a natal or an event chart? I have not looked at enough natal and event charts for the role of the via combusta to even begin an answer to this question.

    Bevan defines the GIFT BOX at 4-19 Scorpio and applies the idea of a “gift box” area (similar in concept to the via combusta) to event charts, specifically the discovery of outer planets.

    To quote him verbatim:
    “The Gift Box: 4 Scorpio – 19 Scorpio — This is the area that is opposite that part of the zodiac where the Moon is considered ‘Vazarite’, which is a term used by Al Birumi and describes the condition that occurs when a planet appears out from under the Sun’s Beams and lasts until it is 30 degrees separate the Sun. This is akin to when a soldier is released from the peril of war of imprisonment. He has survived his enemy and no matter his condition he is due to a situation of happiness, celebration and rejoice. There is no other time that is more potent for a planet or when the significator is more likely to burst into an act of good deeds. This area of the sky, ie. 3 – 19 Scorpio, is therefore the ‘Gift Box’ where unexpected surprises or presents may come to surface. Check the discovery charts of the outer planets and you will find a planet in the Gift Box in every chart and the planet that is nearest to 15 Scorpio tells us something about the nature of what is about to enter into our conscious world, ie. into our awareness.”

    If the “gift box” region applies to event charts, why would the via combust region not also apply?

    Regarding your comment ” plenty of other events would have taken place at the same time as the washington navy yard event.. they would have had much the same data, as this was only one event in a world full of events.. using via combust to frame this event without consideration for the natal chart of the person who was instrumental to this event,” I agree that the natal chart of the perpetrator of the incident is important. On the other hand, the Washington DC area is also significant because in that region Venus ruled both the ASC and the 8th cusp and Venus opposed the 8th cusp at the time of the incident. At a different location on earth at the same moment, Venus would not fulfill these same conditions, so its placement in the via combusta would be less signifciant (though still present). Furthermore, the majority of people who lived in the DC area were affected by the incident. Traffic was re-routed, air flights were cancelled, etc. Thus, many events initiated in DC at that time were affected by the shooting.


    • james says:

      hi tony,

      i would like to comment on a few statements you’ve made which i think are very important to consider. “If the via combusta is useful in horary and electional astrology, why would it lose its meaning in a natal or an event chart?”
      horary astrology is an area of astrology i am least knowledgeable on and one i haven’t been drawn to.. my understanding of it put simply is it seems to be based on a set of rules for finding an answer to a question. of course the answers will change depending on the house system one uses or the horary techniques one does or doesn’t incorporate, or the interpretation of the numerous techniques, such as void of course moon one holds and on and on.. geoffrey cornelius which we’ve both read, points out in his book ‘the moment of astrology’ this gulf between astrology as a form of divination verses astrology as something more scientific in nature along the lines of the rationale i believe ptolemy gave for astrology.
      can “via combusta” be used in natal astrology? if so how? no one has tried to use it in this context as far as what i have witnessed. i would be curious how they applied it.
      regarding my statement about all sorts of events taking place around the globe where this same pattern – (which ever patten you’d like to emphasize from the washington navy yard event) – libra would have been rising for different times of the day around the globe with venus in the same place ruling the same houses.. for that matter, it would have been rising in new york for a wedge of time in a similar fashion and the traffic in new york would not have been affected by the naval yard shooting.. what i am trying to say in all this is that this astro data that is being singled out as relevant for this event would have taken place in many more places on the same needs more then ‘via combusta’ rising with venus/saturn in ‘via combusta’ ( accepting via combusta is a 30 degree and not a 15 degree wedge of the zodiac) with this same terrible venus in scorpio ruling over the ascendant and 8th house.. i see th analyzing of this particular chart without aaron alexis’s chart as mostly steeped in astro superstition more then anything else..
      as for the ‘gift box’ applying to event charts, you’d have to take this up directly with andrew bevan who as i understand it thru his posts at skyscript also has a primary orientation towards horary astrology, based on the techniques he seems to emphasize..i have never seen him advocate the use of this, so i don’t know that he does!
      sometimes astro theories or techniques look good on paper, but may not have a lot of relevance for use..
      to go back to ‘via combusta’, how would you apply it to reading a natal chart, which is close to what i see you doing with it here on this ‘event’ chart?

      • James,
        The question I raised is one for which I don’t have an answer. (“If the via combusta is useful in horary and electional astrology, why would it lose its meaning in a natal or an event chart?”)

        Some astrologers insist that certain techniques only apply to particular branches of astrology. I don’t know why that should be true, but is is a belief many astrologers share.

        Horary developed to answer questions from a chart. Its techniques are designed to provide an answer. Natal astrology (the psychological kind practiced by many modern astrologers) is supposed to tell us about the personality of a person. My impression of historically older natal astrologer is that it was largely predictive: would you marry and when, how many children would you have, who are your enemies, will you achieve fame and fortune, etc. In a way this type of natal astrology is really a set of horary questions based on the time of the birth chart.

        I have not tried to apply the via combusta to natal charts. It may be symbolically significant in terms of the area of the chart under consideration (this is pure speculation on my part since I have not studied this question in any detail). We could check this by looking at charts of individuals famous for “combustion” in some one.

        One chart that comes to mind is that of Alfred Nobel (of the Nobel Prize), the inventor of dynamite. Certainly the symbolism of a combust way applies to his man. He was born on Oct 21, 1833. At that time his Sun was at 28 Libra, Mars at 2 Scorpio and Mercury at 9 Scorpio — all in the via combusta. His time of birth is unknown. In his sunrise chart the Sun rules his Leo MC, so the Sun in the Via Combusta seems to relate to his profession (blowing things up with dynamite to create burnt paths).

        It would be instructive to look at a large number of charts where the MC-ruler was in the via combusta to see if a similar symbolism applied.


      • james says:

        thanks for sharing your perspective on this here. these are the kind of questions i like to ask myself as well, so i appreciate when someone else says they don’t know the answer, as i often find myself in the same position. i too was motivated to find a chart that either supported or not the relevance of this concept natally, but didn’t come up with anything other then an event chart which i have for just the day of the event. i set the chart to noon for feb 2 1982, which is the date of the hamas massacre in hamah syria.. this is one of the most recent examples of genocide that has gone by largely unnoticed it seems..
        regarding your comment on the use of natal astrology for making basic predictions on when someone will marry, how many children they would have and etc. etc. – yes, that is like using the birth chart to answer questions in a manner similar to horary. looking at traditional astrology from a far away distance of today, it does seem more static and less intuitive then it might have been.. i suppose the idea of their being a set of rules to follow where one could find the answer to a question off the natal chart is a lot like horary.
        i do believe in order to find answers to questions like ‘why did the washington naval yard shootings take place?’ it is critical to have aaron alexis’s chart. without his chart, the initiator of the event is missing from the study.. can something be gleamed from the timing of the event itself? yes. can everything be gotten just off the event chart? no.. can much of our uncertainty of what is at work be astrologically answered without aaron alexis’s chart? i don’t believe so. going back to the hamas massacre, without a consideration of hafez- al assads chart – oct 6, 1930 which shows a jupiter/pluto/mars conjunction 18-22 cancer, the triple conjunction in the hamas massacre chart of mars/saturn/pluto at 17-26 libra is less significant in itself.. i believe we would see similar patterns from the washington navy yard shooting to aaron alexis’s chart, but we need a time of birth for him.. that said, he seemed to be driven my some obvious mental health issues which might make it harder to connect the dots astrologically..
        at any rate, the question over the use of ‘via combust’ in relation to a chart is an interesting one! i think you are right to challenge the concept of something working in one area of astrology, then why not another? i find myself thrown back with the pat answer – so much of astrology is subjective in nature and reflects the mind of the astrologer as much or more then the actual chart.. i find it difficult shaking this perspective i have acquired over a lifetime of doing astrology and watching others do it differently!

  5. via combusta says:

    vc is the time of dark forces

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