Planetary synodic cycles can be used as timing devices in astrology. This article examines a historical parallel between the synodic cycle of Venus and the Sun relative to explosive moments in U.S. black-white race relations over a span of 160 years.
When it comes to looking at longer spans of time with astrology, either in a single person's biography or in a larger historical context, using the solar synodic cycles of the visible planets for timing purposes is a handy and illuminating way to unearth longstanding patterns of events or circumstances.
A synodic cycle ("synod", from the Greek synodos, means "meeting place") refers to a conjunction cycle between any two planets, though for astrological purposes the most relevant and useful are those that pair any of the visible planets with the Sun. Among the most vital sections of such periods are the retrograde and solar conjunction phases, as these extreme points in the planetary cycles often coincide with major events and changes in matters related to the planet in question.
To show one facet of how cycles work in astrology, I will demonstrate a parallel between one very particular section of the Venus retrograde cycle and its conjunction counterpart with a timeline of events that appear to be related to a specific theme, and that together span 160 years at regular intervals.
The Venus retrograde period last about 40-43 days, not including the "shadow" periods that occur before and after its duration. Preceding it, there is a pre-retrograde shadow period, during which Venus transits through the degrees of its impending retrograde; following the retrograde, there is a post-retrograde shadow period, during which Venus transits forward again through the degrees it just retreated. Each of these shadow periods last about 30-34 days. One full Venus retrograde phase – from shadow through retrograde through shadow again – lasts between 100 and 110 days.
Within the span of its eight-year cycle, Venus turns retrograde five times at pretty much the same five points of the zodiac at each return. There is a gradual shift of approximately two days and two zodiacal degrees earlier at each successive time, so that over a period of 120 years, the position of a given Venus retrograde or direct station will fall back thirty degrees, or one full sign.
The same is true for the superior conjunctions of Venus (direct motion Venus making a conjunction with the Sun): there are five superior conjunctions within an eight-year cycle, occurring in the same five areas of the zodiac as the retrogrades. The retrograde and superior conjunction cycles overlap perfectly as a pair, in what works out to be four-year increments at very close zodiacal positions. For instance, Venus will station retrograde during the summer of 2007 (2 Virgo 46), and it did in Virgo-to-Leo during the summer of 1999 (4 Virgo 59, see Diagram 1), 1991 (7 Virgo14), 1983 (9 Virgo 29), 1975 (11 Virgo39), etc. Conversely, there will be a Sun-Venus superior conjunction in 2011 (23 Leo 18), as there was in late Leo-early Virgo during the summer of 2003 (25 Leo 23, see Diagram 2), in 1995 (27 Leo 30), 1987 (29 Leo 37), 1979 (1 Virgo 44), etc.
Cycles of Social Conflict
Drawing from these two parallel groups of five points, this one pair appears to have a profound connection with a historical chronology of race relations in the U.S., going back at least to the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831. The retrograde that currently stations in Virgo, then goes direct in Leo (during the 19th century it was stationing retrograde in Libra and direct in Virgo), and its counterpart superior conjunction, which now occurs in the late degrees of Leo every other four years, has a peculiar prominence in the timeline of tensions between races in U.S. history, largely black-white tensions.
According to Robert Schmidt, translator of ancient Hellenistic astrological texts for Project Hindsight, the essential nature of Venus is to unify that which is different or divided. In my view, the superior conjunction and retrograde phases of Venus are periods when its principle aims are challenged, with each successive point in the cycle marking new shifts in ongoing life narratives, in this case the gradual-but-painful integration of two distinct factions in American society.
Listed below is a chronology of events relevant to the history of U.S. race relations from 1831-1999 that occurred during periods of 25 recurring Venus retrograde and conjunction returns. Other than the Bellingham riots of 1907, all of the events listed have to do specifically with relations between African-Americans and Caucasian Americans, though some pertain to how factions within these two groups differed on the terms by which they defined their stand on race relations. All events occurred close to either the retrograde phases or superior conjunctions of Venus in Virgo-to-Leo (before 1903, Libra-to-Virgo). It is by no means a definitive chronology of racial or social conflict in the U.S. However, taken as a whole, it is striking that such a weighty list of thematically-related incidents all happen to have occurred within these two brief phases of an overall eight-year cycle.
Sep 17-Oct 29, 1831: Venus retrograde 22 Libra-6 Libra
Nat Turner captured by Benjamin Phipps
Oct 30, 1831, noon, Southampton County, VA 1
One day following Venus direct station
Nat Turner was a deeply religious black slave in Virginia who, following a series of mystical visions, led a rebellion against white slave-owners and citizens, killing at least 55 people in a single night-long massacre. It was 26 days preceding the Venus retrograde station when the rebellion began in the early morning hours of August 22, 1831. However, Turner was caught a little over two months later, on October 30th, just one day after the Venus direct station. At least 55 were executed for their part in the rebellion, and more than 200 blacks in the area were subsequently killed at random by white mobs. The Turner rebellion occurred one full Saturn cycle before the American Civil War (less than one degree from its position during the siege at Fort Sumter, South Carolina on Apr 12 1861), indicating an important reference point for what would come to be called the Antebellum period.
Sep 14-Oct 26, 1839: Venus retrograde 19 Libra-4 Libra
Amistad schooner captured by U.S. ship
Aug 26, 1839, evening, Long Island, NY 2
Nineteen days preceding Venus retrograde station
On July 2nd, 49 slaves, led by Joseph Cinqué, rebelled against their white captors while aboard the schooner Amistad, en route from Havana to Puerto Principe. Almost two months later, they arrived off the coast of Long Island, NY, where they were captured, and a lengthy legal battle was fought over their right to freedom. The court proceedings began in Hartford on November 19th, just 24 days following the direct station of Venus. By the time a final decision in their favor was reached by the U.S. Supreme Court on March 9, 1841, the next Venus retrograde station, on April 23rd, was only six weeks away.
Sep 12-Oct 24, 1847: Venus retrograde 17 Libra-1 Libra
John McClintock and citizens trial begins
Aug 25, 1847, Carlisle, PA 3
Eighteen days preceding Venus retrograde station
A riot in Carlisle, Pennsylvania erupted after a series of events beginning June 2, 1847 when two Maryland slave owners, in town hunting down escaped slaves, were arrested for breaking and entering. When the local sheriff agreed to also detain their "property" during their brief incarceration, local black residents of this free-state were appalled, as was a local white university professor and theologian named John McClintock. When the Marylanders and their slaves attempted to leave town upon their release on June 30th, a brawl broke out between them and members of the black community, during which one of the slave owners was killed. McClintock and 26 other citizens were put on trial, which began just over two weeks before the retrograde station of Venus. Eventually, all participants were acquitted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Sep 30, 1851: Venus superior conjunction 6 Libra
Southern slave owner killed in Christiana, PA conflict
Sep 11, 1851, dawn, Christiana, PA 4
Nineteen days preceding superior conjunction
A violent confrontation erupted at dawn on the property of mulatto farmer William Parker, a vital stop on the underground railway in the Pennsylvania village of Christiana. Parker, a member of the Lancaster Black Self-Protection Society, and other abolitionist locals were involved in a shootout against a Maryland slave owner named Edward Gorsuch, accompanied by a U.S. Marshall and deputies, who had arrived looking for four escaped slaves named Noah Buley, Nelson Ford, George Ford, and Joshua Hammond. Gorsuch was legally entitled to cross the Mason-Dixon line in his pursuit, thanks to the recently passed Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, but was killed in the gunfire. The resulting trial, in which the lone defendant was ultimately found not guilty, was a national media event and provided an important legal challenge to the Fugitive Slave Act.
Sep 10-Oct 22, 1855: Venus retrograde 15 Libra-29 Virgo
Topeka constitution convention outlaws slavery
Oct 23, 1855, Topeka, KS 5
One day following Venus direct station
Following two Kansas free-state conventions in Lawrence (August 14) and Big Spring (September 5, five days preceding the Venus retrograde station), delegates assembled in Topeka to draft a new free soil constitution, angering pro-slavery factions in the outbreak of a feud known as Bleeding Kansas. By the time the document was approved on December 15, the Wakarusa war had broken out in the Lawrence area when a local pro-slavery advocate shot and killed a free-state neighbor during an argument. President Franklin Pierce denounced the Topeka convention as an act of treason and demanded that its government disband. The brief Wakarusa conflict didn't result in too much violence, though Lawrence was later attacked and brutally sacked during the Civil War, at the Venus synodic return from this period, on August 21, 1863, by a band of Confederate guerillas led by William Clarke Quantrill (and probably including future outlaw extraordinaire Jesse James, born on the verge of the Venus retrograde station during this same synodic return on September 5, 1847 in Centerville, MO).
Sep 27, 1859: Venus superior conjunction 4 Libra
John Brown leads Harpers Ferry raid
Oct 16, 1859, night, Harpers Ferry, VA 6
Nineteen days following Venus superior conjunction
Militant abolitionist John Brown and about 19 of his men began their raid on an armory at Harpers Ferry on this evening, an attempt to secure munitions for their war against slavery. The siege was ultimately thwarted, with most of the men dying at the scene or by execution in the aftermath, but the incident managed to sway Virginian popular sympathy toward the Confederacy. Robert E. Lee, despite being personally opposed to secession, ultimately decided to side with his home state and fight against the Union. The time of the assault occurred less than three weeks after the Venus superior conjunction, though by the time of the raid, transiting Mercury had moved in between the Sun and Venus.
Sep 7-Oct 19, 1863: Venus retrograde 13 Libra-27 Virgo
New York draft riots
Jul 18, 1863, evening, New York City 7
Fifty-six days preceding Venus retrograde station
Although this event did not occur exactly within the retrograde phase or its shadow periods, I decided to include it anyway, since it still came awfully close and was certainly a significant moment in the Civil War, having come just days after the legendary battles at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. In fact, Union troops returning straight from the fields of Gettysburg were called upon to help handle this riot, a foreshadowing of the urban race riots at the turn of the century, essentially mass lynchings perpetrated by hordes of angry whites. In this case, the matter at hand was the Union war draft, widely resented by recent European (largely Irish) immigrants who in turn took their frustrations out on random African-Americans on the streets of New York.
Sep 5-Oct 17, 1871: Venus retrograde 10 Libra-24 Virgo
President Grant sends troops to South Carolina to disperse KKK
Oct 17, 1871, Washington, DC 8
Venus stations direct this day
Having passed the Civil Rights Act, also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, the previous April, giving him the power (until 1872) to suspend habeas corpus, President Ulysses S. Grant did just that when he sent troops to nine counties in South Carolina to arrest hundreds of Klansmen. This was following a period of severe Klan activity, all the more so during the Venus retrograde phase that led to Grant's proclamation of October 12 (five days prior to this), ordering the South Carolina Klan to disarm and disperse. With over 3,000 indictments handed down following this clampdown, violence in the South took a sharp turn downward following trials in late 1871-early 1872.
Aug 31-Oct 12, 1887: Venus retrograde 6 Libra-20 Virgo
Decatur racial violence follows manhunt for gunman
Aug 27, 1887, 3:00 PM, Decatur, GA 9
Four days preceding Venus retrograde station
A Sunday school celebration in Decatur, Georgia turned into a violent racial clash after an unknown black man pulled out a gun, prompting someone to call the police. Both whites and black rallied against each other during the ensuing chase, and the shootout continued even after the original gunman was ambushed and killed. The incident was blamed by some on ill-feelings among local residents following a lynching in nearby Redan a few weeks earlier.
Aug 28-Oct 10, 1895: Venus retrograde 4 Libra-17 Virgo
Race riot erupts at mining camp near Birmingham, Alabama
Jul 30, 1895, 10:00 PM, Brookside, AL 10
Twenty-nine days preceding Venus retrograde station
Two policemen were killed during a shootout with disgruntled black miner Jim Biggers at a mining camp in Brookside, Alabama, sparking a racially-divided gun battle that killed at least seven or eight people.
Booker T. Washington's "Atlanta Compromise"
Sep 18, 1895, Atlanta, GA 11
Venus inferior conjunction with Sun and Moon
Just as Venus retrograde was making its conjunction with the New Moon in Virgo, the Southern black educator and activist Booker T. Washington gave his famous "Atlanta Compromise" speech to an audience of mostly whites at the Cotton States and International Exposition. Said to be among the most important speeches in American history, Washington's appeal for working cooperation between races was a milestone in establishing better relations between them, though he also drew, and would continue to draw, considerable criticism for being too accommodating to white social domination.
Aug 27-Oct 8, 1903: Venus retrograde 1 Libra-15 Virgo
Boston riot at Booker T. Washington speech
Jul 30, 1903, evening, Boston, MA 12
Twenty-eight days preceding Venus retrograde station
A heated confrontation between Washington and a faction of black dissenters, led by his chief critic William Monroe Trotter, during a hot night's gathering at Boston's A.M.E. Zion Church, led to a riot and several arrests, including that of Trotter and his wife. The criticism leveled at Washington on this night was not unlike the initial reaction to his "compromise" speech, which he had given just one Venus synodic cycle earlier.
Stabbing incident triggers white riot against blacks in the Bronx
Aug 15, 1903, evening, Bronx, NY 13
Twelve days preceding Venus retrograde station
The fatal stabbing of a white man named John Finnessy in the Bronx, triggered a mob hunt of at least fifty for the unknown black man said to have committed the act during a bar brawl. The mob attacked dozens of blacks who happened along the streets that night, until police were finally able to calm things down.
Sep 14, 1907: Venus superior conjunction 21 Virgo
Sep 5, 1907, night, Bellingham, WA 14
Nine days preceding Venus superior conjunction
The Washington state frontier town of Bellingham erupted in a mob of about 500 white men rampaging against a neighborhood of East Indian immigrant families, as the local police force stood by complacently.
Aug 25-Oct 6, 1911: Venus retrograde 29 Virgo-13 Virgo
Midtown Manhattan race riot erupts following shooting
Jul 22, 1911, one hour after sunset, Manhattan, NY 15
Thirty-four days preceding Venus direct station
A race riot broke out on Seventh Avenue outside the new Pennsylvania Station in midtown Manhattan, following a street altercation turned violent when an off-duty fireman named George Duke was shot in the neck, allegedly by a black man named Silas Seabrook, who was apprehended at the scene. Seabrook's alleged accomplice, a razor-wielding black man who attempted to prevent his arrest, managed to escape. Within minutes of the shooting, scores of whites and blacks gathered at the scene, squared off in an ugly confrontation. Duke apparently survived his injury.
Critics of Booker T. Washington issue appeal to Europe
Oct 26, 1911 16
Twenty days following Venus direct station
At the synodic return of this particular Venus retrograde, Washington was again taken to task for his moderate position. On this day, 32 notable African-Americans issued an appeal to Europe, in response to statements he had made during a recent tour there. Again, he was accused of being overly conciliatory and accommodating to white domination. "It is one thing to be optimistic self-forgetful and forgiving, but it is quite a different thing, consciously or unconsciously, to misrepresent the truth." Washington died on Nov 14 1915, just two months following the Venus superior conjunction in Virgo.
Aug 22-Oct 4, 1919: Venus retrograde 27 Virgo-11 Virgo
Jul 11, 1919, approx. 1:00 AM, Longview, TX 17
Forty-one days preceding Venus retrograde station
As a white vigilante mob was ambushed during an attempt at retribution over a rumored mix-race love affair, so began the second of what would be 25 major urban riots during the summer of 1919, in what has since become known as "Red Summer". At this point, Venus was still outside its pre-station shadow, though by the time most of the worst rioting got underway, that was not the case.
Washington D.C. riot
Jul 19, 1919, evening, Washington, DC 18
Thirty-four days preceding Venus retrograde station
Lasting more than three days, this riot erupted over an alleged assault on a white Navy man's wife by a black man. Unlike most riots from this period, resistance to the white mob was organized and effective, more like the riots of the 1960's than most of the others that occurred at this time. With the "Red Summer" heating up, Venus was now entering its pre-retrograde shadow.
Jul 27, 1919, 2:00 PM, Chicago, IL 19
Twenty-six days preceding Venus retrograde station
A black youth was drowned at the lakeside beach after a rock attack by whites who were angry over his wandering out of the "colored" section of the water. The following riot lasted five days, resulting in the deaths of 23 blacks and 15 whites, with close to 300 wounded or maimed. Venus was well into its pre-retrograde shadow at this point.
Sep 28, 1919, 11:00 PM, Omaha, NE 20
Venus retrograde, six days preceding direct station
Another alleged assault on a white woman by a black man triggered this massive riot, in which a mob of up to 20,000 people participated, leaving the suspect in question bullet-ridden and burned on a pyre, Omaha's mayor hanged, and the city's courthouse in flames. Venus retrograde was now less than a week from its direct station.
Sep 30, 1919, 11:00 PM, Elaine, AR 21
Venus retrograde, four days preceding direct station
A shootout erupted when a local sheriff and his squad raided a black sharecroppers meeting, during which a detective was killed. Rumors of a black uprising brought together a mob from both sides of the Mississippi for what amounted to a slaughter, yet another mass lynching with a black body count being possibly as high as 800. Many of the ensuing trials against black defendants for riot-related indictments wound up being overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, an important early victory for the NAACP.
Sep 10, 1923: Venus superior conjunction 16 Virgo
Oklahoma governor declares state-wide martial law
Sep 15, 1923, Oklahoma City, OK 22
Five days following Venus superior conjunction
Following the Tulsa race riot of May 31-June 1, 1921 (having ignited 18 days after the Venus direct station in Aries), Ku Klux Klan influence rose sharply in Oklahoma. To combat a continuing assault of Klan-related violence, Governor John C. Walton declared martial law throughout the state, and ordered 6000 Oklahoma guardsmen to active duty. Walton was soon forced out of office for his actions, suspending habeas corpus not being permitted by the Oklahoma constitution.
Aug 17-Sep 29, 1935: Venus retrograde 22 Virgo-6 Virgo
Rubin Stacy lynched
Jul 19, 1935, Fort Lauderdale, FL 23
Twenty-nine days preceding Venus retrograde station
Despite pressure from both the NAACP and Eleanor Roosevelt to support an anti-lynching bill (the Costian-Wagner Act) that would punish sheriffs who failed to protect lynching victims in their custody, President Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to comply, for fear of alienating his Southern voter base. Following the lynching of a man named Rubin Stacy (as Venus edged closer to its retrograde station), who was captured in Florida while in the custody of Dade county deputies, it was hoped - in vain - that Roosevelt's mind would be swayed by the grisly photo of the event making the rounds.
Sep 5, 1939: Venus superior conjunction 12 Virgo
Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit Debuts at #16 on sales charts
Jul 22, 1939, New York, NY 24
Forty-five days preceding Venus superior conjunction
Billie Holiday's haunting song about lynching, recorded April 20, 1939, was making its peak on the sales charts as an impending Venus superior conjunction drew closer. Holiday had been singing the song at Café Society, New York's first integrated nightclub in Greenwich Village (opened on December 30, 1938 at 11:30 PM, 20 days following the previous Venus direct station in Scorpio) since the beginning of the year. It was already a local phenomenon by the time of its release in June, when it became a nationwide cause célèbre and an enduring anthem for the emerging Civil Rights movement.
Aug 15-Sep 27, 1943: Venus retrograde 20 Virgo-4 Virgo
Jun 20, 1943, approx. 10:00 PM, Belle Isle, MI 25
Fifty-six days preceding Venus retrograde station
In a city where the black population had doubled within the previous 10 years, racial tensions had already come to blows in Detroit on the morning of February 28, 1942 (just five days after the Venus direct station in Aquarius), at the brand new Sojourner Truth housing project, when local whites clashed with blacks who were trying to move into their new homes. Although that skirmish was relatively mild, matters exploded as Venus was moving closer toward its retrograde station, when a minor brawl escalated to major mob violence, much of it caused by false rumors on both sides of the racial divide that women and children were being attacked. Again, this particular event occurred outside the span of the Venus retrograde and its shadow periods. It was worth including in this chronology, not only because it came close to the cycle, but also because Detroit has since been the scene of mob incident during the Virgo-to-Leo Venus retrograde (see 1967 and 1975). Furthermore, the summer of 1943 was a hotbed of American rioting, with the notorious "Zoot Suit" riots in Los Angeles having just happened on June 3rd, and the big Harlem riot was still to come.
Aug 1, 1943, 10:00 PM, Harlem, NY 26
Fourteen days preceding Venus retrograde station
As Venus was slowing down to its station, Harlem's most destructive riot ever erupted over a rumor that a policeman had shot and killed a black solider (when he had apparently only wounded his shoulder). Looting was rampant, with more than 1,000 people arrested and six shot dead. During the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, Harlem would again ignite in a riot on July 18 1964, just eight days after its direct station in Gemini.
Aug 13-Sep 24, 1951: Venus retrograde 18 Virgo-2 Virgo
Jul 10-12, 1951, Cicero, IL 27
Thirty-four days preceding Venus retrograde station
Following the Second World War, it was not unusual for black families attempting to move into an otherwise white-only neighborhood to find themselves greeted with strong resistance, sometimes even violence, from local whites, incidents that were common but almost never reported. However, this time in Cicero, IL, such an incident was reported internationally, even receiving coverage in Time magazine. On this occasion, the unruly mob tossed the family's furniture out a window and set it on fire, also causing a lot of other general mayhem until the National Guard was called in to clean things up.
Sep 1, 1955: Venus superior conjunction 8 Virgo
Emmett Till Abducted by Lynch Mob
Aug 28, 1955, 2:30 AM, Jackson, MS 28
Four days preceding Venus superior conjunction
As with the Cicero incident, this event was mainly unique because it received widespread press coverage, even though it was typical of the times. A 14 year-old black kid from Illinois, in Mississippi visiting family, whistled at a white woman outside a grocery store, and then wound up being abducted and murdered by a lynch mob later that night. When his devastated mother allowed a photograph of his severely beaten and disfigured face to be printed in newspapers across the world, an outcry of protest was heard. Three months later, in Birmingham, Alabama, it was the image of young Emmett Till's death face that haunted Rosa Parks as she defiantly kept her seat on a city bus.
Aug 10-Sep 22, 1959: Venus retrograde 16 Virgo-29 Leo
Policemen attacked by mob in the Bronx
Aug 9, 1959, shortly after 1:00 PM, Bronx, NY 29
One day preceding Venus retrograde station
Two NYPD officers attempting to arrest a black man and woman in the East Bronx for illegal possession of alcohol found themselves surrounded by a large angry mob. Four people were injured and four were arrested in the ensuing confrontation as police backup attempted disperse the crowd.
Miles Davis attacked by policeman
Aug 26, 1959, early morning, Manhattan, NY 30
Venus retrograde, fourteen days following station
As with the Cicero and Emmett Till incidents, what set this otherwise-ordinary event apart was that it received major international publicity. Trumpet player Miles Davis, at this point a big name in the music industry for over a decade, stepped outside the Birdland Club in Manhattan on a night his band was booked for numerous sets. Having just helped a white woman friend of his hail down a cab, he was simply smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk when an NYPD officer came by and started giving him trouble. Davis was hit hard on the head with the cop's nightstick, and then arrested for disorderly conduct and assaulting an officer. In the end, Davis won a lawsuit against the city of New York, and a major symbolic victory in the war against oppression.
Aug 29, 1963: Venus superior conjunction 5 Virgo
Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" Speech at the March on Washington
Aug 28, 1963, mid-late afternoon, Washington, DC 31
One day preceding Venus superior conjunction
Probably the best-known event in this timeline, the March on Washington was the biggest Civil Rights protest in history, with estimates of 200,000 to 500,000 people in attendance. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech, among the greatest moments in modern oratory. The Venus superior conjunction was just a day away; in fact, marking this special occasion was a tight triple conjunction of Venus-Sun-Uranus.
Birmingham church bombing
Sep 15, 1963, 10:19 AM, Birmingham, AL 32
Seventeen days following Venus superior conjunction
One of the great tragedies of the Civil Rights era occurred a little over two weeks after the March on Washington. A Klan-planted bomb explosion at a black Birmingham, Alabama church killed four young girls, injuring another 22 people. This blast was Birmingham's 21st bombing in eight years, and its third in the last 11 days. Again, during this part of the Venus synodic cycle, more international attention is paid to the event.
Aug 8-Sep 20, 1967: Venus retrograde 13 Virgo-27 Leo
Jul 12, 1967, 9:40 PM, Newark, NJ 33
Twenty-seven days preceding Venus retrograde station
As Venus was easing into its pre-retrograde shadow, a cab driver was arrested and beaten badly. A rumor that he had died spread around Newark, triggering the first in a series of riots this summer, lasting six days and leaving 26 dead and an estimated 1500 arrested. Like its Venus retrograde in Virgo counterpart (the "Red Summer" of 1919), the summer of 1967 saw a wave of rioting in American cities, fewer in number but much longer in duration. Each incident was more like a miniature civil war than a simple case of civil unrest. Looking at the broader context, obviously it can be said that riots were a very regular occurrence throughout the 1960s, and certainly not all of them happened during Venus retrograde phases. However, these were, after all, the 1960s and as with the Los Angeles riots of 1992 (which also did not occur during a Venus retrograde or superior conjunction), there were outer planet conjunctions in effect at the time, marking them as volatile periods for social unrest.
Jul 14, 1967, evening, Plainfield, NJ 34
Twenty-five days preceding Venus retrograde station
Eighteen miles southwest of Newark, and two days into the rioting there, hot tempers spread to Plainfield this night, beginning with a brawl at a local diner that escalated into a chain of events that would take a full week to play out. The only death, however, occurred on the night of the 16th, when a mob turned on a white policeman who had just shot and wounded a black youth. Ultimately, as with Newark, the New Jersey Governor Richard J. Hughes declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard.
Jul 23, 1967, early morning, Detroit, MI 35
Sixteen days preceding Venus retrograde station
A five-day long riot ignited when the vice squad attempted to shut down an illegal after-hours drinking establishment. The so-called "12th Street Riots" occurred 24 years after the Detroit riot of 1943 mentioned earlier, only this time well within the pre-retrograde shadow phase of Venus. The riot was also far more severe this time around, with a reported 43 people dead, and more than 2,000 buildings burned down. To this day, it stands as one of the most destructive riots in U.S. history.
Aug 27, 1971: Venus superior conjunction 3 Virgo
George Jackson killed at San Quentin prison
Aug 21, 1971, afternoon, San Quentin, CA 36
Six days preceding Venus superior conjunction
Black panther/author George Jackson, incarcerated for the last 12 years of his life for stealing $70 from a gas station, was about to go on trial for killing a prison guard, but instead was gunned down during what was described as an escape attempt from the San Quentin prison yard. The Attica prison riots, which began nineteen days after Jackson's death, were said to have been at least partly caused in reaction to it.
Aug 6-Sep 17, 1975: Venus retrograde 11 Virgo-25 Leo
Jul 28, 1975, 9:00 PM, Detroit, MI 37
Nine days preceding Venus retrograde station
A white bar owner shot a black youth during an alleged car burglary, triggering what was shaping up to be yet another bad riot in Detroit during this particular retrograde cycle. However, within two days Coleman Young, the city's first black mayor, managed to quell the situation, partly due to his keeping a largely black police force on duty to enforce the peace. This crucial early victory during his first year in office helped develop Young's legend, which in turn helped keep him in power until 1993.
Louisville & Boston busing riots
September 12, 1975, Louisville, KY and Boston, MA 38
Venus retrograde, five days preceding direct station
As Venus was slowing down to its direct station, white and black parents and youths clashed over enforced school busing, intended as a solution to segregation problems in urban public school systems. On this day early in the school year, tempers exploded at protests in Boston and Louisville, the latter escalating into a riot by an estimated 10,000 people. Although no deaths were reported, there was a lot of damage and the National Guard was called in to calm things down.
Aug 3-Sep 15, 1983: Venus retrograde 9 Virgo-23 Leo
Graffiti artist Michael Stewart killed during NYPD arrest
Sep 15, 1983, 2:50 AM, Manhattan, NY 39
Venus stations direct this day
A young graffiti artist caught in the act at a subway station at First Avenue and 14th Street in Manhattan was said to have resisted arrest and lapsed into a coma while being subdued by at least six NYPD officers. He arrived at Bellevue hospital bruised, hogtied and unconscious, dying thirteen days later. Charges of police brutality sparked New York's longest criminal trial, which resulted in acquittals for the accused officers on November 24, 1985.
Aug 1-Sep 13, 1991: Venus retrograde 7 Virgo-21 Leo
Crown Heights riot
Aug 19, 1991, 8:00 PM, Brooklyn, NY 40
Venus retrograde, twenty-five days preceding direct station
During the Venus retrograde of summer 1991, a car belonging to a procession led by Lubavitch Rabbi Menachem Schneerson crashed and accidentally killed seven year-old Gavin Cato on a street in Brooklyn's Crown Heights district. Enraged black citizens clashed with whites, particularly Jews and policemen, over the next three days, during which time an Orthodox Jewish man (not, however of the Lubavitch movement) died from injuries sustained from an assault by a black mob.
Aug 20, 1995: Venus superior conjunction 27 Leo
East Coast-West Coast hip hop wars begin
Aug 3, 1995, evening, Manhattan, NY 41
Seventeen days preceding Venus superior conjunction
One-upmanship between West and East Coast hip hop music factions grew more and more aggressive over the course of this evening's proceedings at the Second Annual Source Music Awards (a hip hop culture magazine's awards gala held at Madison Square Garden in New York City), triggering a brief-but-era-defining cultural rift that is understood to have led to the gun deaths of artists Tupac Shakur (shot in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996 at 11:15 PM, during a separating Venus-Mars conjunction in late Cancer-early Leo) and Biggie Smalls (shot about forty minutes after midnight on March 9, 1997 in Los Angeles, during a Mars retrograde). Although not really a racial schism, it was a factional rift within an African- American cultural context rooted in this same given Venus superior conjunction cycle. Rapper's Delight by Sugar Hill Gang, said to be the first hip hop record, was released on September 16, 1979, 22 days following the Venus superior conjunction at 1 Virgo. Eight years later, DJ Scott La Rock, of Boogie Down Productions, was the first major hip hop artist to be shot dead on August 27, 1987 (1:25 AM in The Bronx, NY), four days following the Venus superior conjunction at 29 Leo.
Mark Fuhrman tape reveals "N-word" use
Aug 29, 1995, Los Angeles, CA 42
Nine days following Venus superior conjunction
The verdict on O.J. Simpson's murder trial was just over a month away, and as the days led up to that fateful moment, the court (minus the jury) heard taped conversations between Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman and screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny, during which Fuhrman used the "N-word" 41 times and also described police brutality towards blacks. As sympathies in this case are notoriously divided largely along racial lines, it is fair to say revelations heard in court on this day are among the top reasons this is so. The jury was allowed to hear these tapes a week later, on September 5th.
Jul 29-Sep 10, 1999: Venus retrograde 5 Virgo-18 Leo
1999: New Twists
There was plenty of American social violence during the Venus retrograde of 1999, but the pattern of racial conflict set by previous points in the cycle was not nearly as evident. Although some of the violence was racially charged, this time the scope of the racism was broader than a simple black/white schism. The Illinois shooting spree of Benjamin Smith, which began on July 2 at 8:20 PM in Chicago 43 (27 days preceding the Venus retrograde station), targeted blacks, Jews and Asians, with two of his 11 victims failing to survive their wounds. Buford Furrow's shooting at a Jewish daycare center in Granada Hills, California on August 10 at 10:49 AM 44 (12 days into the Venus retrograde), injuring five and killing one, was clearly motivated by racial hatred. But there were also a number of non-racially motivated high-profile murders committed during this period. There was a homophobic hate crime with the murder of Army Private Barry Winchell, who was beaten in his bed at a barracks with a baseball bat for his rumored affair with a trans-gendered woman, on July 5 at approximately 2:30 AM in Fort Campbell, Kentucky 45 (24 days preceding the retrograde station). More random were the office shooting sprees of Mark O. Barton on July 29 at 3:00 PM in Atlanta 46 (the day of the retrograde station), and Alan Miller seven days later on August 5 at 7:00 AM in Pelham, Alabama 47 , neither of which appears to have been racially motivated. Nor was Larry Gene Ashbrook's shoot-up of a Fort Worth Baptist Church, killing seven, on September 15 just after 7:00 PM. 48 (five days following Venus' direct station).
There was a serious riot in the United States during the 1999 Venus retrograde phase as well, except this time it did not appear to be racially motivated at all. The disastrous Woodstock music festival of July 23-25 in Rome, New York 49 ended in mob retaliation against overpriced bottled water and other indignities incurred at the site, a product of white suburban ennui that exploded in a fury of burning cars and numerous reported sexual assaults.
Jul 27-Sep 8, 2007: Venus retrograde 2 Virgo-16 Leo
Coming This Summer?
During the writing of this article, the Virginia Tech shootings occurred (April 16 2007, 7:15AM, Blacksburg, VA 50), at what was virtually the exact Venus synodic return of the Columbine shootings of 1999 (April 19, 1999, 11:19 AM, Littleton, CO 51). Although these events both occurred about three months before the Venus retrograde station, well out of the range of even the pre-station shadow phase, the fact that they were almost exactly eight years apart means that their respective Venus positions are close to identical zodiacally and relative to the position of the Sun (which was at 26 Aries at Virginia Tech and 0 Taurus at Columbine).
The violent events of the summer of 1999 suggest that whatever potential turmoil in American life that happens to coincide with the Venus retrograde phase of summer 2007 doesn't necessarily have to be divided along strictly black-white lines anymore. However, with black-white divisions having an escalating prominence lately ( e.g., the Duke Lacrosse Team rape case, and the Rutgers Basketball Team racial slur case with Don Imus), it is fair to say we are already entering this historically volatile phase of the Venus cycle with the matter on our minds.
4 New York Times: September 29, 1851
9 New York Times: August 28, 1887
10 New York Times: July 31, 1895
13 New York Times: August 16, 1903, p. 2
15 New York Times: July 23, 1911, p. 12
24 Nicholson, S. Billie Holiday. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997, p. 122,125.
25 New York Times: June 25, 1943, p. 8
26 New York Times: August 3, 1943
Maddin, D. L. Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie. London: Harper Collins, 2004, p. 149-150.
27 New York Times: July 13, 1951
29 New York Times: August 10, 1959, p. 1; August 11, 1959, p. 23; August 14, 1959, p. 10
30 New York Times: August 26, 1959
Vail, K. Miles' Diary: The Life of Miles Davis 1947-1964. London: Sanctuary, 1996, p. 141.
Kahn, A. King of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece. NY: DaCapo, 2000, p. 164.
Carr, I. Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography. London: Harper Collins, 1999. p. 154-155.
Szwed, J. So What: The Life of Miles Davis. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002, p. 179-180.
37 New York Times: July 31 (p. 12) & August 1, 1975 (p. 37)
39 New York Times: September 16, 29 & 30, 1983; October 20, 1983; November 25, 1985
40 New York Times: August 20, 1991
50 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/16/us/16cndshooting.html?ex=1177732800&e n=ceae18f60d3a096e&ei=5070