The dramatic week of the terrorist attacks in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo offices and the Kosher grocery store, Jan. 7-15, 2015, closely coincided with eight days during which Mercury and Venus were in a Planetary War, with Venus (planet of politics) winning over Mercury (planet of speech) due to its superior brightness. This Planetary War ran from Thurs. Jan. 8th at 4:23 am (Paris time) to Jan. 15th at 2:56 pm – the day the first issue of Charlie Hebdo was released since the office shooting. At mid-day Jan. 7th tr. Mercury and Venus were within 1 degree 10 minutes of arc of each other. Coincidentally, one of the two Charlie Hebdo terrorists, Cherif Kouachi, had natal Mercury and Venus in a Planetary War. He was in Rahu-Mercury Dasha in January 2015.
Called Graha Yuddha in Vedic astrology, a Planetary War occurs when two planets are within one degree of each other in the same zodiacal sign or in adjacent signs. The winner takes on the energy of the losing planet, while overpowering it with its own energy and agenda. (Only five planets qualify: Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.) Tr. Mercury-Venus were also hemmed in by classical malefic planets Sun and Mars until Wed. afternoon, Jan. 14th, opposed throughout by tr. Retrograde Jupiter in Sarpa drekkana in sidereal Cancer. (Sarpa = snake and drekkana or deccanate = a division of 10 degrees, assigned to certain segments of water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.) These sectors are snake-like in quality, and natal or transiting planets in this area can be volatile and unpredictable, while sarpa can bring deception.
When exalted, especially in this degree area, Jupiter can create more extremes for its realms, which include publishing and religion. The Venus-Mercury Graha Yuddha of Cherif Kouachi was in his 5th house in Scorpio, also within Sarpa drekkana, and in Jyestha nakshatra, owned by the defeated Mercury, as was his Ascendant nakshatra (Ashlesha), further exacerbating his sense of not being heard.
Though the brothers were inseparable from childhood and had a history as militants, Cherif was probably the leader of the two. His Rahu-Mercury Dasha ran from Feb. 17, 2013 to Sept. 6, 2015, activating his defeated natal Mercury and pushing him to express himself, further emboldened by the expansive Jupiter transit in Cancer (June 20, 2014 to July 14, 2015). Tr. Jupiter contacted his Ascendant and aspected his four planets in Scorpio (Jupiter, Sun, Mercury and Venus). In addition, his Rahu-Mercury Dasha coincided with the rise of the Islamists in Syria and across the Middle East, ISIS declaring a Caliphate April 9, 2013 and renaming itself an Islamic state on June 29, 2014.
Key target among the Charlie Hebdo victims, cartoonist and editor-in-chief Stéphane Charbonnier had his Jupiter return within two degrees at the time of death on Jan. 7, 2015. His natal Jupiter at 24:57 Cancer (again Sarpa drekkana) was close to the Ascendant of Cherif Kouachi, at 23:29 Cancer – normally an auspicious connection. But instead, Kouachi’s disempowered Sub-Dasha lord Mercury played a major part in his taking a radical, terrorist action to “defend Islam.” He had been involved with or inspired by Islamic militant groups starting from the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, amplified by revelations of the torture of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.
The Kouachi brothers received some military training from Al Qaeda in Yemen, also known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). It is not yet clear who directed them to do the attack, but “… since 2010 AQAP has publicly promoted a campaign calling on Muslims in Western countries, including France, to assassinate cartoonists who draw the prophet Mohammed, particularly those who do so in what is perceived as an insulting and demeaning manner.” (Jeremy Scahill, “The Paris Mystery: Were the Shooters Part of a Global Terrorist Conspiracy?” The Intercept, Jan. 12, 2015.)
In Graha Yuddha, the defeated planet suffers loss of power related to its significations, all subject to various other factors and some potential modifications, depending on where they are situated by sign, house, nakshatra, and the planetary aspects received.
Venus and Mercury together would normally be considered sweet or eloquent speech. But with Mercury losing to Venus starting within 17 hours after the attacks, the actual content of the speech is overwhelmed by style or rhetoric. Venus is also the planet of politics, and as the great magnetizer when it wins over Mercury is in danger of producing hollow or misleading rhetoric that can mask the real truth of the situation.
With such an outpouring of passion for freedom of speech (Jupiter opposite Mercury-Venus), and the ongoing unprecedented publicity for Charlie Hebdo and its next publication, it may seem odd that Mercury is defeated during the week of Jan. 8-15, 2015. But the planets never lie, and in the larger picture they are showing the relative powerlessness of speech and of journalists when attempting to hold accountable the most powerful entities – whether state, religion, or their leaders – whether they do this in the satirically savage style of Charlie Hebdo or any other style, though France is especially known for its long history of political and religious satire. This includes Rabelais (ca.1483-1553) and Voltaire (1694-1778), both champions of freedom of thought and expression who used satire to criticize intolerance, especially religious intolerance. Meanwhile, various Islamic groups are taking credit for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris and praising its perpetrators for silencing the offending cartoonists.
In this case the journalists were killed by terrorists, but more often in our era journalists are killed, imprisoned or repressed by “legitimate” governments. Indeed, if you examined the policies of the 40 world leaders at the head of the march in Paris on Sunday, Jan. 11th, you would see many instances where these same leaders extolling free speech and honoring slain journalists are repressive towards journalists to varying degrees in their own countries, whether censoring, prosecuting, imprisoning or killing them – for reasons mostly involving journalists practicing journalism and doing the work of the Fourth Estate. On Jan. 19th, 2015 The U.K. Guardian revealed that the GHCQ, the British intelligence agency working closely with the U.S., lists “investigative journalists” as a security threat alongside terrorists or hackers.
Journalists per se are more within the domain of Jupiter, which is weakened in the sidereal EARTH period, 1921-2199, when Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions dominate in the sidereal EARTH element. That is another story, but one indicating the continued deterioration of Jupiter’s realms, including journalism and education, especially from 1961 to 2100, with perhaps some slight shift when the EARTH to AIR Mutation begins in 2080. This is due in part to the huge implications for planetary conjunctions from the Graha Yuddha between Jupiter and Saturn, in which Jupiter loses the war to Saturn, but loses much more definitively in earth signs, especially Capricorn – where Jupiter is debilitated.
• Attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices: Wed., Jan. 7, 2015, ca. 11:30 am, Paris, France. Asc. (11:30 am) 28:23 Aquarius. (Source: News reports)
• Cherif Kouachi: Nov. 29, 1982 22:20, Paris, France. Asc. 23:29 Cancer. (Astro-Databank: Class AA data)
• Said Kouachi: Sept. 7, 1980, 1:40 am, Paris, France. Asc. 17:56 Gemini. (Astro-Databank: Class AA data)
• Stéphane Charbonnier: Aug. 21, 1967, 18:30, Conflans-Sainte Honorine, France. Asc. 2:23 Capricorn. (Source: Astro-Databank: Class AA data.)
A Timeline of the Charlie Hebdo Attacks by CNN
Charlie Hebdo Timeline: How Events Unfolded by The Guardian
Three Days of Madness: A Timeline of the Charlie Hebdo Attacks by Slate
Graha Yuddha (Planetary War)
• Edith Hathaway: “Graha Yuddha: Testing the Parameters of Astrology and Astronomy,” copyright © 2003, revised & expanded 2010. Text: 40 pp.; includes 25 chart examples. https://www.edithhathaway.com/pdf/Graha_Yuddha.pdf
• Edith Hathaway: Lecture given April 27, 2012, London, UK at the BAVA conference: Graha Yuddha: Reassessing its importance in birth charts, transits and Jupiter-Saturn conjunction cycles. This mp3 is 90 min
EARTH period: 1921-2199
• Edith Hathaway, In Search of Destiny: Biography, History & Culture As Told Through Vedic Astrology, 2012. Chapter 1: Historical Context and Collective Destiny, pp. 1-56.
• Edith Hathaway, lecture given June 21, 2014, Seattle, WA at the CVA conference: The Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction: Historical Context and Collective Destiny. This video combines the lecture mp3 with Edith’s Powerpoint presentation: 1 hr. 41 min.
Edith Hathaway is an international consultant in practice since 1980, author, teacher, and lecturer of Vedic astrology, and among the few contemporary astrologers trained and certified in systems of both East and West. She was a Founding member of the American Council of Vedic Astrology and since 1992 has served as a faculty and board member of both the American Council and American College of Vedic Astrology. She has received numerous certificates and awards from leading astrological organizations, including the Jyotish Brihaspati, the highest award given by the Council of Vedic Astrology (CVA). Her website and online store where you can find the lectures referenced above can be found at www.edithhathaway.com
Her book In Search of Destiny is a winner in the category of Nonfiction E-book from Eric Hoffer Book Awards for books published in 2012. The book is cited as "[bringing] an understanding of the astrological science via explanation and examination wrought through the lens of time and culture." In Search of Destiny is also a Finalist in the San Diego Book Awards for books published in 2012 in the category of Nonfiction: Spiritual and Inspirational.
(Editor: For additional perspectives, see "Conflicting Views on Planetary War (Graha Yuddha)" by Vaughn Paul Manley, M.A.(2006)