If Not Dignity, Then What?
In the polemical “The Curious Case of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Turner“, I showed how dignity is not a good indicator of a planet’s tendency towards more positive or negative significations. The charts of Jeffrey Dahmer (4 planets in domicile) and Ted Turner (4 planets in fall or detriment) are cogent reminders of how inaccurate the use of dignity for beneficence can be. However, the question remains as to how one should judge beneficence and loftiness of character (moral disposition) and social status (eminence).
The delineation of character, morality, and eminence is complex. Of those, character is the easiest. Traditional methods will tell you far more in regards to character than modern psychological astrology. Eminence is a much messier can of worms. In the application of eminence techniques, I often find more relevance in terms of social mobility, than in terms of a pre-ordained hierarchical “rank of fame”, as some traditionalists describe it. Eminence will be explored at some later time.
Ascendant Lords, Mercury, and Dominant Planets
Abu’ali on the Lord of the Ascendant and Mercury: “these signify the matters of the soul, and the morals of the native, just as the Moon and the Ascendant signify the body” (The Judgment of Nativities, Dykes trans., 2009, p. 236). Abu Bakr on the other hand has us look at dominant planets in the chart, particularly those in the 1st or 10th. This is similar in spirit to the “victor of the chart” approaches which were popular in the later middle ages. Ptolemy looks at Mercury for the rational mind and the Moon for the irrational, mirrored in the modern-day notion of a conscious and unconscious mind.
Overall, in character analysis, I find the Ascendant Lord(s) and the dominant planet(s) to be the most important starting points of the delineation. All of the rulers of the Ascendant are of some significance for character, as all are connected in some way with the individual themselves (signified by the Ascendant). Prominent planets in the chart are a strong influence upon the life, so their impact will be felt, but if they have no rulership of the Ascendant then there is not likely to be an identification with the planet.
Powerful fixed stars conjunct the Ascendant, MC, Moon, and Mercury are very influential upon the character but will not be dealt with much here. Suffice it to say that Dahmer has the very martial star Pollux on his MC which the author of The Book of Aristotle (initially believed to have been Masha’allah) associated with Mars and a wrathful violent temperament, especially by day (Masha’allah, Ch. III.2.1, Dykes trans., 2009, p. 79).
There are some lots which are also relevant to character, especially the Lot of Spirit (but others as well). I will not being exploring the lots here.
Rather than using all strength/weakness and beneficence/maleficence conditions at my disposal in the literature, I’m going to restrict myself to those I find most important. They are the same factors I used in the series on faith and were discussed in the first article of that series.
Personally, I recognize at least 3 distinct types of strength: prominence, stability, and pertinence.
Volume or prominence pertain to the extent that a planet pours out its natural significations. A prominent planet influences many areas of life in a strong way, not just those associated with the houses it occupies and rules. Prominence is shown by advancing/retreating, stations, phasis, and apogees.
Prototypicality and stability are less important than prominence. They are shown by various conditions of congruity. These include sign-based dignity, the joys, and gender conditions, among others. Stability has various forms. A stable planet is likely to signify what it signifies consistently in life. A planet in a fixed sign is more stable than one in a mutable sign, and one in a cardinal sign is least stable of all. Dignity, especially domicile, makes a planet more consistent and stable in its indications (for better or worse) because it is its own ruler. A planet ruled by another planet of a contrary nature is less stable as it is influenced by the ruler.
Pertinence is the relevance of a planet to a particular matter. For intance, a planet in the 1st or one of its stakes (especially the 10th) is pertinent to the character of the person. When a planet or point naturally signifies something, is in a place, rules a place, or regards a place (especially by opposition or the right side), it becomes pertinent to a matter.
Strength is not beneficence or maleficence. The benefit or harm associated with an indication pertains more to natural signification, sect, place, and planetary influence.
Jeffrey Dahmer: Malefics through the Moon and Venus
I recommend watching this fascinatingly candid interview with Dahmer in which he discusses the impetus of his actions.
Rulers of the 1st
The ruler of the 1st was commonly used because it is pertinent to the character by way of the accidental signification of the 1st house as the house of the individual. It was used for character and moral disposition by Masha’allah in On Nativities, and Abu’ali in The Judgment of Nativities, among others.
8th House Venus Overcome by Saturn
Venus, a natural benefic, pertaining to beauty, sensuality, and pleasure is made malefic by being out of sect and in the 8th place. She is regarded on the right-side most closely by Saturn (by trine) in the 4th. Saturn is the dominant planetary influence over Venus, as she is overcome by Saturn and in Saturn’s bound. The bound ruler of the Ascendant Lord is very important to Masha’allah in showing the native’s involvement in something. Saturn, planet of death and the macabre, is in the 4th which has significations related to the dead and buried things. Saturn, the 4th house, and the Saturn bound all reinforce the significations of death and harm of the 8th.
That Venus does not regard the Ascendant is significant. Venus is in a “dark” place. Venus puts the native in connection with hidden or dark elements of life. This in itself does not necessarily signify the native is immoral. It is common for instance for those involved in social reform, prisons, institutions, and so forth to have the ruler of the 1st in the 6th or 12th. Also, those involved in lending and insurance may have it in the 8th.
A Marriage of Saturn and Venus
The lack of aspect from Venus also prompts us to look more closely at the influence of other rulers of the Ascendant, especially Saturn. Saturn is the exaltation and first triplicity ruler. It is in the 4th, and retreating. Saturn’s retreat makes it less public and pervasive, but it is still very personally significant as it is in a stake. Saturn is in the bound of Venus, adding to the significant relationship between
Saturn and Venus. Saturn and Venus, and the 4th and 8th houses are central to characterizing the native’s personality. There is pleasure-seeking, associated with death and dirge, the macabre. Venus made bad, as an important personality significator, tends to pertain to shameless excess. Superficially, we would think that he’d seem gentle, possibly effeminate, somewhat depressive, and quite shy.
Malefic Venus, Alcohol, Sex, and Dead Things
In Dahmer’s case, the Venus tended toward abuse of alcohol (Venus as drinks, made malefic signifying intoxicants), compulsive indulgence, and difficult sexuality. He was considered a catch within the gay community and would manipulate men into positions where he could harm them. He would often drug his victims. His ultimate motivation was sexual attraction and a desire for sexual possession.
The associations of this Venus with death are very strong. Venus is not only in the 8th place of death, but is in a very close relationship with Saturn, lord of death and dead things.
Ages of Man and Developmental Venus
Venus becomes developmentally activated from the age of 14 to 22, roughly the ages of sexual development. During Dahmer’s adolescence he went from the Mercurial highly curious boy of Mercury in the 9th, to the withdrawn, secretive, Saturnine Venus in the 8th. This brought very vivid sexual fantasies of necrophilia.
Mercury was used by many for the character and moral disposition, including Masha’allah, Abu’ali, and Ptolemy, among others.
Mutability and Confusion
Mercury is not necessarily strong for intellect in Virgo or Gemini. Mercury in a common (i.e. mutable) sign, such as Virgo or Gemini, was said to signify a small but quick intellect, liable to anger. It indicates an unstable mind, that has trouble with perseverance. This is in contrast to the extremely honorable intellect of Mercury in a fixed sign. It also differs from the confidence, quick grasp, enthusiasm, and good-speaking ability of Mercury in a moveable (i.e. cardinal) sign. This is a rather weak indication though, as there have been a number of great geniuses with Mercury in mutable signs (especially Sagittarius and Pisces as Jupiter connects gain to the intellect).
Out of Sect and Closely Aspected by Mars
Dahmer’s Mercury is out of sect, though in a somewhat good place (the 9th). It is applying to Mars, and scrutinized by Mars in a very close application in which Mars overcomes Mercury. There is a vast range with Mercury in terms of benefic thru malefic significations. Mercury is somewhat weakened though, particularly for intellectual activities from the mutability. There is also weakness due to its cadency and from combustion (it is under the Sun’s beams).
Dahmer was said to be a relatively good student as a youth. However, he didn’t pursue higher education and was not an intellectual. Overall, his intellectual abilities were capable enough to allow him to commit murder and cover his tracks over many years. He used his intellect in ways that were particularly maligned. His focus was on deceit, from drugging men at clubs to take advantage of them, to secretly raping, murdering, and even eating men. In a sense, the chart reveals Mercury to be most active as an accomplice of Mars, as it applies to Mars which overcomes it. Combustion may be signifying the way his intentions were kept “obscured”.
The Dominant Planet
The Setting Moon
The Moon happens to also be the dominant planet in the chart. She is strongly advancing in the same degree as the Descendant. Mars, Saturn, and to a much lesser extent, Jupiter, are also quite dominant by being in the stakes. However, the Moon is in a stake and generally strong, conjunct the angle.
The Moon is the planet signifying the irrational mind. This is the mind that later came to be called the subconscious. The Moon has an extremely strong influence in the life. It is as if she is broadcasting from a loudspeaker all over the life. This makes Dahmer particularly attuned to her very subjective, vivid, irrational influences.
Reflecting the Malefics
The Moon is co-present with Mars so her significations are mixed with Mars. According to Serapio, the planet in the earlier zodiacal degree is typically more influential when two planets are in the same sign (a type of overcoming). The Moon is also ruled by Mars so the Moon is strongly influenced by Mars.
The Moon is also in the bound of Mercury, but Saturn, which is dominating her from the 4th (within 3*) is a much more direct influence. Overall, the out of sect Moon is overwhelmed by the influences of Mars and Saturn. The irrational impulses are pulled along malefic violent and macabre dimensions.
Moon-Mars in the House of Partners
The Moon is in the 7th which pertains to encounters with others, especially romantic partners. Mars rules and occupies the place, while Saturn dominates the place. Both Mars and Saturn are in “stakes” and thus very strongly important to Dahmer. However, both are retreating, thus they are private, moving behind the scenes, avoiding any loud broadcasting of their significations. The Moon, in contrast, is blaring her peculiar lunar energy across the life. She is the vehicle through which Mars and Saturn find entrance into the life.
The Moon and Mom
Interestingly, some focal issues in Dahmer’s early life revolved around his mother’s anxiety and combativeness. This created a lot of stress in his home. His first murder happened just after high school at a time when his mother unexpectedly left him in the house alone for an extended period of time. The Mars-Moon has some symbolism regarding mental illness, particularly anxiety. His mother’s anxiety disorder is vividly symbolized as Mars shows an overload of energy. Mars-Moon also symbolizes Dahmer’s unconscious need (Moon) for violence (Mars) against partners (7th house).
Dahmer can be most strongly identified with a strong Venus-Saturn configuration between the 8th and 4th houses. A Venus made malefic showing a dark overly indulgent type. He was driven by a cold and macabre sense of sexuality and beauty.
Pulled by Venus into sensual indulgence, the strong lunar influence upon his life saw him embracing irrational impulses. The nature of the irrational mind and sense of beauty are colored predominantly by the malefics. Themes of violence and the macabre are particularly prominent.
The personality is overall phlegmatic and melancholic. He is somewhat feminine (through Venus), coolly frank (through Saturn), with a touch of joviality (through Jupiter).
Ted Turner: Aggressively Ambitious and Gregarious Mercury
Ruler of the 1st
A Very Benefic Jupiter
Jupiter is the ruler of the 1st and is the sect benefic. He is in the 3rd of siblings, communications, journalism, current events, and transportation. Jupiter naturally signifies a cheerful disposition, charisma, faith/positivity, and a desire to seek greater truth. He is natually benefic and here is also in sect and dominated by Venus. Therefore, this is a very gregarious and positive Jupiter indeed.
A Connected and Choleric Jupiter
Jupiter is influenced by many planets. He is very closely dominated by the Sun, but also dominated by Venus, closely overcome by the Moon (trine), overcome by Mercury (sextile), and overcome by Mars (trine). Jupiter is in the bound of Mars and the domicile and triplicity of Saturn. Therefore, there is quite a lot going on with Jupiter, which is in a relationship with every planet in the chart.
Jupiter is most dominantly influenced by the Sun, then Mars, then Venus. In my opinion, this brings out a much more choleric or ambitious Jupiter but one with aesthetic dimensions. Jupiter is not particularly prominent (cadent, retreating). However, it is relevant to eminence through its close regard by the Lights. Its weakness is also counter-acted by the strong advance of Mars and Saturn, its rulers, in the chart.
The Popular Sibling
Overall, we expect a cheerful, gregarious, likable personality, but one a bit heated and geared toward power plays. He values style and sensuality. There is a particular connection to matters of communications and/or journalism (the 3rd).
The Dominant Planet
Mercury is the dominant planet in the chart. It’s strongly advancing towards the Ascendant and is in the 1st. Mercury is in its own bound, reinforcing Mercury’s natural significations relating to news and communications. It is also the natural significator of business and commerce and is in the sign of Jupiter.
Mercury is out of sect, and very closely overcome by Mars, so Mercury can pertain to malefic significations, despite position in the very good 1st place. There is a broad range of good and bad significations. Negative significations relevant to character are tied to Mars in the 11th of friends and popularity. This can pertain to a propensity for aggressive speech, words reflecting bad on one’s character or creating problems in friendships. It may even show deception. The most well-known manifestation in Turner’s life has been a propensity to put his foot in his mouth and make controversial public statements. There is both a Jupiterian casual humor and a bit of Mercury’s more mischievous side. Mars makes the mind very keen, intense, and aggressive. It may be difficult to turn off or control the chatter.
The Moon is out of sect, in the bound of Mars, co-present with Mars, and opposed by Saturn. Therefore, the Moon can signify very difficult matters. The Moon is in the 11th, which is one of the most benefic places of the chart so there is a range, but the Moon can be difficult.
Overall the Moon is somewhat torn between the venusian Mars and the martial Saturn. Mars in Libra in the 11th showing an overt hot ambition, particularly for popularity, achievement, and sensual pleasure. Saturn showing heated obligations, restrictions, and responsibilities. The Moon, Mars, and Saturn are in the most benefic places in the chart, the 11th and 5th, but we expect difficulties in mental extremes from the malefics. There is a weight on a subconscious level and a choleric temperament of great restlessness. Most problematic from the influence of the malefics may be matters of friends, children, romance, and personal leisure.
Mercury plays a huge role in characterizing Ted Turner as someone constantly involved in media, analysis, and business. The role of Jupiter is also very strong and important to self-identification. Both are particularly choleric (ambitious, domineering).
We expect someone who is fast-thinking and busy. He is curious, mischievous, and aggressively ambitious, particularly when it comes to opinions, commerce, and technology. The identification with Jupiter bring an over-arching benefic sense to the personality of wanting to do good, help out, and expose truth.
The combination of Jupiter and Mercury makes for a very gregarious and humorous personality overall – a mix of the sanguine and the choleric. The tendency to domineering speech is shown by Mars overcoming Mercury and the sheer prominence of Mercury. However, as Mercury is in a mutable sign and ruled by a cadent retreating planet, there may be a tendency for more chatter than substance.
Masha’allah, & al-Khayyat, A. ’Ali. (2009). Persian Nativities I: Masha’allah and Abu ’Ali. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.
Cropped image of a derivative work by wikimedia user Zenman from an original image by user cliff1066. Image is of a mask by the Wee peoples, Côte d’Ivoire, Late 19th to mid-20th century.