Wagner Family Astrology: The Family Cult

In late 2021 when the southern Ohio Wagner family matriarch Angela Wagner pleaded guilty to her role in the 2016 slayings of eight Rhoden family members, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued the following statement:

Our society reveres mothers for taking care of their children and teaching them to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. But by actively plotting the murder of an entire family and encouraging her own kids to carry out the violence, Angela Wagner abjectly failed in her responsibilities. I send my thanks to the dedicated special agents, forensic scientists, and intelligence analysts at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation — at least 33 past and present by my office’s count — who have worked this case without ceasing since the start. Their work will continue until each of the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable.

Prior to Angela Wagner pleading guilty, her youngest of two sons – Edward “Jake” – had already pleaded guilty to five of the eight slayings as well as a number of other charges. Yost’s comments in that instance focused solely on the investigation.

I am incredibly proud of our team at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation whose dedication, perseverance and expertise lead to today’s plea.

The scope of this crime and subsequent investigation surpasses any other in Ohio’s history. The dedicated men and women of BCI rose to the challenge in the pursuit of justice for the victims — and never gave up.

BCI’s work spans countless long nights, weeks and years and will continue until all responsible for these crimes are held accountable.

Motherhood, it seems, has a different standard than fatherhood.  Is it not a bad example of fatherhood to murder your children’s mother and close relatives while sending yourself and grandmother (and possibly grandfather and uncle) to prison?

Yet listening to the witnesses in the trial of the oldest son George IV, why Yost focused parenting comments toward Angela Wagner is a bit clearer. She seems to have set the tone for the family, in the words of others “controlling,” home-schooling her boys and bringing girls to “the farm” when they were young in an apparent effort to loosely arrange marriages in a 19th century clan-type fashion. Neither of her sons when grown wanted to move away from her and farm when asked to by their girlfriends and wives.

Father Wagner’s role (George III) in setting the cult-like tone of the family was less clear until Jake took the stand to explain that dad taught the boys thieving, stealing and scamming. Mom home-schooled the boys and finished subjects they did not care to do while dad-as-Fagin, the exploiter of homeless children in Oliver Twist, inured his boys to a life of small-time criminal activity. Let’s see if Yost has anything to say about fatherhood when the patriarch stands trial.

It’s interesting that Jake did not finish his studies in psychology thinking he wouldn’t need it in life (according to his testimony). Psychology, it seems, was the most important subject he could have taken. And English literature with some Dickens thrown in. A shout out to the liberal arts which help us understand life, reflect on it. Astrology, of course, does that too.


Saturn is one of astrology’s traditional “malefics,” a planet bringing bad luck. A broader view indicates Saturn brings contraction, caution, rules, limits and authority. While some astrologers fear Saturn, I try to remind any astrologer who wants to get married and be monogamous that Saturn is involved. Saturn is the discipline and limits that makes marriage, well, marriage. We can argue whether marriage is a natural state for humans in another blog. Saturn’s discipline is needed for any life venture you want to last for an extended period of time.

For Jake and George junior, Saturn was definitely malefic. Both men have Saturn in Aquarius – George at zero degrees, Jake at 12. Saturn is currently transiting Aquarius in its 29-year cycle. Both George and Jake have had Saturn returns, a time considered the first round of life maturity, when we start to “settle down” and get married and leave unfinished, childish goals behind. In the words of astrologer Steven Forrest, Saturn returns are “confrontations with reality.”

The confrontation with maturity for both men has hit very hard. Jake confessed during his Saturn return. George pled not guilty and is currently on trial.

Saturn entered Aquarius in March 2020 when the world went into “lockdown” due to a virus. Aquarius is the fixed air sign governing group expression, group ideals and group activities. Those were the very things limited by Saturn from 2020 to the present. Saturn will move into Pisces next year.

Not every Saturn in Aquarius cycle is so extreme yet Jake and George experienced their own “lockdown.” The lockdown was already a life sentence having begun when young and they were isolated in life and learning. They will continue the path of social isolation.

George’s Saturn is trine to his Libra sun while Jake’s is square. George, we are learning, was the nicest and most approachable member of a difficult family, although still prone to a little violence as we learned from the ex-wife. If the testimony is correct in his trial, he accompanied his brother and father on the fated night but was not able to shoot. His weakness was his strength; Jake’s strength was his weakness as he was able to do most of the homicides.

The Wagner parents both have Saturn in Taurus which is square to Aquarius (both are fixed signs). Taurus is the most literal and possessive of the signs as it rules stuff, property, but ultimately is about values. Those with Saturn in Taurus seem to feel a physical lack regardless of the true material quality of the upbringing. Saturn in Taurus feels there wasn’t enough physical love, touch, food, or money. In response, there can be excessive possessiveness as we see in this situation.


The negative image of home-schooling and its lack of “socialization” are evident here. (As an aside, having done a library science practicum studying home schooling and library use, there is a positive side where socialization and the broadening of perspective is a major part of home schooling.)

George has moon in Virgo and Jake moon in Gemini, both ruled by Mercury. There was a great potential for intellectual pursuits, an emotional need for stimulation and social interaction. George with four planets in air and Jupiter and moon in Virgo is someone who thinks a lot, especially about what others think. Virgo is also anxious and gets in the way of itself. When you are in the ice cream shop sampling flavors and the person in front of you can’t decide, it’s probably a Virgo sun or moon. Combined with sun in Libra, George is indecisive at best.

Jake has Mercury in Sagittarius opposite the moon in Gemini. Gemini, an air sign represented by the twins, is known for its ability to compartmentalize, a psychological state needed to commit these heinous crimes. Moon in Gemini can see to be two people, two emotional reactions, some Jekyll and Hyde. Jake certainly did that but ultimately connected with his Pluto/sun conjunction and purged his emotions by confessing to all of his crimes.

Angela Wagner also has placements that suggest a quick mind (Uranus conjunct Mercury in Libra, Mars conjunct Pluto in Virgo) and desire for learning. Her childhood wasn’t examined during the trial so possibly she was cut off socially as well and merely handed down the tradition.

With Mercury, Venus and Saturn conjunct in Taurus, George the Father was more of a literal thinker. Taurus isn’t a fast-moving sign. It’s fair to say with a grand air trine, that he enjoyed the social life around him, although he may have been sleeping in the corner or munching on chips. Taurus is much slower than the air signs so his Venus/Mercury/Saturn in Taurus may not have expressed his Gemini sun/Libra moon pleasure until several days after the event.

Breaking from the cult

With four charts and all of the aspects in and across each, there is much more that can be said about the family relationships in general and possibly about how fear and possessiveness led to murder.

Saturn seems most involved in cutting off the intellectual, social and spiritual lifelines to the outside world which allowed the Wagners’ to stew in their own feelings creating distorted perceptions that led to unrealistic solutions. The intellectual potential for the sons was focused on farm life and also criminal life. Mercury’s negative side is con artistry.

Culture is a “cult.” Culture as opposed to cult ideally provides a guide for living with rituals that allow its members to connect physically, emotionally and spiritually. When we travel, this is what we seek to experience – the differentness of others’ ways of life. Experiencing different cultures allows us to reflect upon our own culture and our own selves while enjoying the stimulation that a new environment provides.

The first rule of a cult is to control the environment so that otherness does not threaten the cult’s purpose. When Jake testified that he felt “he had no choice” but to murder his daughter’s family that was the cult talking. In a bizarre twist of psychology – the stuff of novels – Jake has actually acquired psychological freedom for the first time in his life by being separated from his family, a strategy employed by the law for this very outcome so that as an independent entity he might confess.

Freedom from the cult, unfortunately, came at a tremendous cost to Jake and others.


About ohioastrology

I'm just another soul trying to make sense of the world. As I've grown, so has my understanding of astrology. I'd like to communicate that astrology is not occult and not fortune-telling but that it is a fluid, creative description of the life we choose to live.
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