On Valentine’s Day 2013, Oscar Pistorius, the renowned and now infamous South African para-olympic and Olympic athlete, fatally shot his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius was subsequently found guilty of manslaughter in 2014 and sentenced to 8 years in jail. After the state appealed, his sentence was increased to 13 years. The judge said Pistorius should have been sentenced to 15 years, but he took into account the time he had already served.
Pistorius has always maintained that he thought there was an intruder in the house and that he shot Reeva by accident because of the perceived threat.
The birthchart gives us insight into the underlying dynamics of behaviour. A prominent feature of Oscar’s chart is the square between his natal Sun in Scorpio and Mars in Aquarius. This dynamic plays a central role in understanding both his extraordinary achievements on the athletics field and his subsequent downfall.
But first some facts about Oscar, who was born in Sandton, Johannesburg, on 22 November 1986 to Henke and Sheila Pistorius. He was born without fibula bones and his legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. From an early age he showed strong determination not to have his handicap hold him back and he pursued, at the encouragement of his parents, various sporting activities such as water polo, athletics, rugby, golf and wrestling. He was introduced to running in 2004 and in 2012 he became the first amputee runner to compete at an Olympic Games. Amongst his many achievements was receiving the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability in 2012.
Sun in Scorpio square Mars in Aquarius
What factor or factors in the chart can account for his extraordinary achievements on the athletics track? Is there a common thread that connects his success and determination to succeed at sport on the one hand and his shooting of Reeva on the other? A leading theme in Oscar’s birthchart is the square between his Sun in Scorpio and Mars in Aquarius. The Sun represents one’s need for identity and self-esteem, whilst Mars represents the need for survival and independence.
The fact that these two planets are in a square relationship, indicates that there is some frustration in getting these needs met. Unmet needs tend to become dominant themes in a person’s life. The frustration associated with a square, also gives tremendous drive and energy to overcome the challenge posed by the square so that one can become very good at the very thing one is inhibited and frustrated by.
Scorpio represents the need for integration of the shadow, regeneration and healing. The scorpionic theme is further emphasised in Oscar’s chart by the presence of Venus, Pluto and Mercury in Scorpio (I will discuss this in part 2). When a planet is in the sign of Scorpio, there is a need for regeneration of that planet’s function and role. It implies that the planet is wounded on some level and not operating at its full capacity. For the planet to fulfil its purpose, it has to die to its old state in order to be regenerated. When the process of regeneration is done successfully, the planet can function in an integrated manner, allowing the planet to be expressed in a passionate and powerful way. The successful completion of the regeneration process leads to integrity and personal power. One can think of this process as turning one’s biggest shame and fear into a source of pride and strength. The person is called to become a wounded healer in that they can set a powerful example to others in how one can be transformed and reborn.
The aspects from other planets to the Sun will give us more information about the types of challenges individuals will face in establishing their identity and also the way they will go about meeting those challenges. Mars has to do with our need for freedom and independence and since it is in a square relationship with the Sun, we can conclude that Oscar’s ability to be independent will be a central theme in his journey towards the development of identity and self-esteem.
With squares, there is often a situation where one of the planets become overdeveloped, thereby creating the potential for very high achievement. However, it also brings the risk of the person becoming out of balance and overly relying and identifying with only one dimension of themselves. There can be little doubt about the central role that Mars played in Oscar’s striving for identity development. Mars represents the need for survival, freedom and independence. Mars wants to win and be there first and this need finds expression through activities such as competitions and situations where the person can prove his or her strength.
Because Mars aspects the Sun, such people feel immensely proud of themselves when they are first, when they are a winner and they get acknowledged for their strength and fighting spirit. The fact that it is a square aspect between the Sun and Mars, indicates the interaction can function in an unbalanced way. This will tend to manifest in extremes of Mars type behaviour such as being impatient, aggressive, having temper tantrums and being reckless. The person has an inner story, a belief, that for them to have self-esteem they have to show how strong, brave and fearless they are. Sun square Mars says: if I don’t act now and show how strong I am, I’m going to be embarrassed and humiliated.
This belief served Oscar well on the athletics track since it provided the drive to overcome his disability. It was, however, less suited when faced with situations that required a more conciliatory and cautious approach. The Sun will do anything to avoid shame and humiliation and it will use Mars to defend against any threat. Shoot first and ask questions later could be a way of describing the aspect.
Leading up to the murder of Reeva, there were several incidents that gave us glimpses of a less integrated Mars in action. In 2009, Oscar was seriously injured in a boat accident when he crashed into a pier on the Vaal River. At first he claimed to have struck a log in the river, but eyewitnesses discounted his version of events. A case of negligent driving was investigated by police.
A month before he shot Reeva, he also fired a gun in a crowded restaurant and covered it up by letting one of his friends take the blame. He also fired a gun through a car’s sunroof in a fit of rage and he was charged by police for the illegal possession of ammunition. A video of Oscar at a shooting range furthermore emerged during his trial in which he referred to the hollow point bullets (the same type of ammunition that killed Reeva), as “zombie stoppers”. We get a picture of someone who is also reckless, accident prone, aggressive and prone to outbursts of anger. All these examples point to his Mars being out of balance.
Oscar’s Mars is in Aquarius and the underlying motive of Aquarius is to awaken the collective to a new perspective and to liberate society from outdated points of view. It is associated with processes of reform, change and progress. With Mars in Aquarius, Oscar is going to fight for some cause, he is going to fight to awaken the collective to a new perspective. We can think of Mars in Aquarius as the rebellious outsider who fights for a cause and brings change to the system.
We see this process at work in Oscar’s fight with the world athletics authorities to allow him to compete with able-bodied athletes on the track. Aquarius is also associated with technological advances, which is reflected in that the dispute was about whether his carbon-fibre running blades gave him an unfair advantage over able-bodied athletes.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) barred him from competing against able-bodied athletes at IAAF events. Pistorius subsequently appealed the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which found in his favour and allowed him to pursue his dream of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. He subsequently became the first amputee athlete to compete against able-bodied athletes at an Olympic Games.
Mars wants to be first, it wants to win and be a pioneer, and in Aquarius it has a progressive quality to it that advances the cause of Mars. The cause is sport in Oscar’s case, which he wants to make in typical Aquarian fashion more open and inclusive.
Oscar’s Sun square Mars first showed itself in childhood as a wound to/in his ability to have freedom of movement. Through tremendous effort, he overcame the odds to achieve almost the impossible. He became a pioneer and inspiration to many. He showed us how a wound, a disability, can be transformed into a source of pride. On one level he truly lived his motto that you are not defined by your disabilities, but by your abilities.
But planets in square tend to manifest in extremes of behaviour. The same energy and killer instinct that served him well on the athletics track, was less suited when it came to the area of personal relationships. We saw glimpses of his un-integrated Mars in his reckless and aggressive behaviour that preceded his shooting of Reeva. Pistorius’ Sun relied on Mars for achieving self-esteem and pride, but with a square there tends to be overcompensation, an over reliance, on one dimension of the psyche.
His belief that he has to show how strong, tough and brave he is in order to gain self-esteem compensates for the fear of being weak. Any threat to his self-esteem will be met by Mars, by force and aggression. The square aspect is the circle divided by four and by firing four shots at Reeva he gave deadly expression of his inner lack of control and balance. In so doing he brought about the very thing he fought against all his life which is the overcoming and avoidance of shame, humiliation and not being free and independent.
Gifford, Gill. “We’re Sorry.” Oscar Trial: Watch How Gun Went off at Tashas, www.enca.com/south-africa/oscar-trial-boxer-testifies-about-gun-shot-restaurant.
“Oscar Pistorius.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Mar. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Pistorius.
Smith, David. “Oscar Pistorius Accused of Firing Gun in Restaurant, Trial Hears.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 5 Mar. 2014, www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/05/oscar-pistorius-gun-shot-restaurant-reeva-steenkamp-trial.