The Manson Family murders in the summer of ‘69 seared a hole in the American psyche. The Family was a cult of hippie nihilists led by Charles Manson, a frustrated singer-songwriter on the fringe of the LA music industry. In what was to become one of the first acts of social-class terrorism to date, Manson and his followers committed a series of nine murders, including that of actress Sharon Tate (wife of Roman Polanski), at four locations over a period of five weeks.
Manson believed the murders would help precipitate an impending apocalyptic race war, which he described in his own version of the lyrics to the Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter.” The seven-member Family comprised three men (Charles Manson, Bobby Beausoleil, and Charles “Tex” Watson) as well as four women (Susan Atkins, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten.)
In 1971 Manson was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and sentenced to death. A year later, however, California ruled the death penalty as unconstitutional and his sentence among others was commuted to life imprisonment. Although Manson came up for parole hearings 12 times, he was rejected on every petition, and has therefore spent a lifetime behind bars.
Largely because of the notoriety that built up around him during the Manson Family trials, he became something of a fascination for America, and was subsequently interviewed behind bars by Charlie Rose, Geraldo Rivera and other journalists. Almost universally, he’s been dubbed “crazy” for his apocalyptic world view and his unrepentant stance on crimes for which he was judged responsible.
Charles Manson was born 12 November 1934 at 16:40 EST in Cincinnati, Ohio, and died 19 November 2017 in Bakersfield, California.
Manson’s chart reveals multiple yogas, including Mahapurusha yogas Sasha (Saturn swa in the 10th) and Malavya (Venus swa in the 7th). He also has two raja yogas (Sun/Venus as conjoined lords of 5th and 7th, Venus/Jupiter as lords of 7th and 9th), and a Kesari yoga with Moon and Jupiter in mutual kendras.
However, the most dominant and striking feature of Manson’s chart is the Kala Sarpa formation created by the nodal axis running through his 10th and 4th houses, effectively placing all of the planets in one half of his chart, leaving the other half empty. Manson has what Hart deFouw calls a “Potential” Kala Sarpa because Saturn lies beyond the degree position of Rahu, thus placing it technically on the other side of the nodal axis compared to the rest of the visible planets. But since Saturn remains in the same sign as Rahu, the formation retains its Kala Sarpa status.
[For a more complete discussion of the Kala Sarpa phenomenon, including its three other patterns, see the article “Kala Sarpa: Yoga or Dosha?” in my book, Stellar Astrology, vol.2.]
In Manson’s chart, one should immediately note how his nodal axis, along with prime malefic Saturn, afflicts the Moon. This reflects major disturbance to the manas, the emotional/instinctual mind of an individual. Its stability is a general indicator of mental health, while its instability reflects at least neurosis if not some form of “crazy thinking.”
In brief, a litmus test for the integrity of the manas involves an analysis of three factors: the 4th lord, the 4th house itself, and the Moon as karaka (generic significator) for the manas. For each of these three, the warning signs are (a) weakness of the relevant planet, (b) poor placement of the planet, and (c) the influence upon planet or relevant house by Saturn or either of the nodes – by association, aspect, or disposition by sign or nakshatra.
Let’s illustrate this concept with an examination of Manson’s manas:
- The 4th lord is the Moon. It has three strikes against it: (1) it’s associated with Saturn, (2) it’s associated with Rahu, (3) it’s in a sign of Saturn.
- The 4th house has two strikes against it: (1) it’s occupied by Ketu, (2) it’s aspected by Saturn.
- Since the karaka for the manas is the Moon, we now repeat what was already observed above for the Moon, and note this doubling-up makes the situation for the manas even more disturbing.
The bottom line here is that the 4th house and its lord the Moon are seriously afflicted, by both Saturn, powerful in its own sign, and the nodal axis which also magnifies the influence of that same Saturn.
Lest we need any corroboration as to which way the wind blows regarding Manson’s ethical judgment, we can also take a quick look at two key houses – the 4th and 9th. Each is associated with the mother and father, respectively, and thereby linked to the notions of (moral) education received both within and outside the home.
- The 4th house is occupied by Ketu, aspected by Saturn. Its lord the Moon is associated with Saturn and the nodal axis.
- The 9th house is vacant while its lord Jupiter is ordinary in the 7th. But Jupiter is afflicted by both Sun and Saturn, while its sign dispositor Venus is totally combust.
Now let’s take a closer look at the Kala Sarpa pattern in Manson’s chart. There are several considerations for the analysis of Kala Sarpa, to determine whether it will operate as a yoga promising success, a dosha doling out misery, or some combination of the two.
- For starters, the Moon lies on the nodal axis, and since the Sun and Moon are sworn enemies of Rahu and Ketu, this makes the Kala Sarpa virulent. Further linkage is seen via the fact that Rahu is in a Moon nakshatra, while Ketu is in a Moon sign.
- A powerful Saturn influences both nodes – Rahu by association and sign rulership, Ketu by aspect and nakshatra rulership. And yet Saturn, approaching the last degree of its sign and therefore sandhi, reflects considerable instability, suggesting the destructive aspect of the Kala Sarpa.
- The 7th house is occupied by a stellium of four planets, all of which are under the duress of Saturn’s aspect, and all of which will be transited en masse by Rahu every 19 years.
- There are two exaggerated-condition planets made vulnerable by their weaknesses. Both are in the 7th: the Sun is debilitated, and Venus is totally combust. Since Venus disposits the entire Libran stellium, this further jeopardizes the 7th house, which will become vulnerable during active periods. These are the dashas/bhuktis of the planets most closely associated with the Kala Sarpa pattern, ie, Moon and Saturn, as well as transits of the 7th by Saturn and the nodes, especially Rahu.
- Finally, based on the premise that Kala Sarpa is like a cobra whose fangs are located in its head, when the planets move toward Rahu (the anuloma type), it’s deemed to be problematic.
Since almost every aspect of this Kala Sarpa is either negative or under malefic influence, this constitutes a massive dosha.
Manson’s life story reads like something out of a Dickens novel. He was born out of wedlock to a 16-year-old waitress with a drinking problem. At one point she allegedly sold him for a pitcher of beer to another childless waitress, but he was retrieved by his uncle a few days later.
After committing a series of burglaries at age 13, Manson went from one juvenile center to another, in one of which he was sexually brutalized. He escaped with two other boys and headed for California, stealing cars and robbing service stations along the way. He was arrested and sent to a minimum security institution in 1951. Although he scored 109 on his IQ test, he was judged to be aggressively antisocial and deemed dangerous. Nonetheless, he turned a new leaf, became a model inmate and earned parole in 1954.
Free again, he married a hospital waitress, and supported them with odd jobs and car theft. He was again arrested and sent to prison, during which period their son was born, but his wife took up living with another man. Paroled and divorced in the same year, he took up pimping, was caught transporting two girls across state lines, and ended up marrying one of the prostitutes to reduce the charges against him.
Nonetheless, he still ended up in prison for attempting to cash a forged US Treasury check. While serving time, a gang member taught him how to play guitar. By the time he was paroled, he was divorced again. By age 32, he’d spent half of his lifetime in one institution or another.
For a time he moved to San Francisco and lived in the Haight-Ashbury district, where he gathered adoring women around him by giving out LSD. Soon he was also attracting young men to his group by promising sex with his “young loves.” In hopes of kick-starting his musical career, he relocated to Los Angeles and made contacts with members of the LA music scene, including Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. He rented property on the Spahn Ranch and became the resident “guru” of a hippie cult that was later dubbed “The Manson Family”, whose core values revolved around sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, with regular rants about an impending race war.
After the killing of Sharon Tate and others, whose murder scenes were embellished with messages intended to incite the race war he felt was coming, Manson became nationally notorious. In June 1970, he was the subject of a Rolling Stone cover story, “Charles Manson: The Incredible Story of the Most Dangerous Man Alive”. A pop culture arose around him wherein he ultimately became an emblem of insanity, violence and the macabre.
The prosecutor for the 1971 Manson case, Vincent Bugliosi, wrote a book about him called Helter Skelter that became a bestseller. Recordings of songs written by Manson were released commercially by various musicians. In the 1980s Manson gave four interviews – to Tom Snyder for The Tomorrow Show, to Charlie Rose for CBS News Nightwatch, to Geraldo Rivera as part of a series he was doing on Satanism, and to Nikolas Schreck for a documentary called Charles Manson Superstar.
In 2014 Manson was engaged to marry a 26-year-old devotee, but the wedding was cancelled after Manson discovered that the woman only wanted to marry him so that she and a friend could use Manson’s corpse as a tourist attraction after his death. Such was his cachet as a “marketable monster” for the times…
The dasha/bhukti periods, along with transits of Saturn, reflect the life of Manson:
- In 1944 (age 9), Mars dasha began. Mars is lord of the 8th house, and is in the nakshatra of Venus, which is totally combust. Saturn transited his 4th house from 1946 to 1948. Manson began skipping school and burglarizing local stores. After being arrested for burglary, he was sent to reform school, where he was raped by other students under encouragement from a staff member.
- In 1951 (age 16), Manson entered Rahu dasha. As noted earlier, Rahu has the capacity via the Kala Sarpa dosha to primarily invoke the effects of a powerful Saturn and a seriously-afflicted Moon. Thus began almost two decades of family dislocation, crime, violence and incarceration. By Saturn bhukti, he was already in jail.
- Saturn transited his 7th house from 1953 to 1955, during which time he escalated to armed robbery and was sent to federal reform school. Saturn transited his 10th house from 1961 to 1963, when he was convicted of a federal crime (check forgery) and sent to prison. From 1968 to 1970, Saturn transited his 1st house (debilitated in Aries), and was within degrees of his ascendant at the time of the Sharon Tate murder.
- In 1969 (age 34), Jupiter dasha began. Since Jupiter resides in Rahu nakshatra, this echoes the themes of the Kala Sarpa dosha. 12th lord Jupiter and the 12th house are both aspected by Saturn, reflecting his downfall and permanent incarceration. This Jupiter, disposited by a “fried” Venus, also shows how a natal theme can be perpetuated in subsequent related periods.
- From 1975 to 1977, Saturn transited his 4th house, during which period his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Prison, which had been his home for so many years, was now officially his permanent residence. As Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor of Manson’s case had said at the time of his conviction, “I was only sending him home. Only this time it won’t be the same.”
- Towards the end of his Jupiter dasha, Manson ran his Rahu bhukti, which combination Hart deFouw has generally described as having “a serious kick to it.” Saturn transited his 7th house from 1982 through 1984. In September 1984, a fellow inmate poured paint thinner on Manson and set him on fire, resulting in second- and third-degree burns over 20% of his body.
- In 1985 (age 50), Manson entered Saturn dasha. Since Saturn is a key component in the virulence of the Kala Sarpa dosha, this merely extended the “hard time” that Manson’s karma had earned him.
- In 2004 (age 69), Mercury dasha began. Again, like Jupiter before it, Mercury is in a Rahu nakshatra, aspected by Saturn, and its rashi dispositor Venus totally combust. He died in Jupiter bhukti. Both Mercury and Jupiter are trik lords and, as occupants of the 7th, both function as maraka planets.
To recap, the Kala Sarpa formation is the signature pattern in Manson’s chart, reflecting a highly-disturbed manas and the violently antisocial lifestyle down which this led him. What is even more interesting about this Kala Sarpa is a piece of information that has been passed down in the South Indian oral tradition to which we owe our understanding of Kala Sarpa:
The Kala Sarpa formation is associated with serpents, specifically the King Cobra, which sometimes grows to a length of 18 feet. It is capable of raising its head to an imposing height of five feet, from which vantage point it has the power to strike fear into man and beast alike. The King Cobra – or raj naga, king of all snakes – is unique in that it prefers to feed on other snakes, including its own species. By extension, this implies the native with a Kala Sarpa formation is granted a “powerful predatory capacity to control one’s own.”
In Manson’s life, this is remarkably illustrated by the fact that the two other men in The Manson Family – his lieutenants Bobby Beausoleil and Charles “Tex” Watson – both had Kala Sarpa formations as well.
How rare is that? Consider that only one in six (16%) of the population has a Kala Sarpa formation. The odds for all three men having it can be calculated as (1/6 * 1/6 * 1/6) one chance in 216, or a mere 0.5%.
[For charts of Beausoleil and Watson, see my article “Helter Skelter: Malefics unbound in the Manson Family”]
In Manson’s case, his Kala Sarpa was angular with Rahu in the 10th, associated with a powerful Saturn in its own sign. (Note here, the head of the cobra is in the 10th, maximum elevation in a chart.) For Beausoleil, his Kala Sarpa was also angular, with Rahu in the 7th, but aspected by an ordinary Venus and Jupiter in the 1st. For Watson, his Kala Sarpa was apoklima, Rahu in the 12th, bereft of any association or aspect. In such a nest of vipers, Manson was clearly the King Snake, with the hypnotic power to influence both the minds and actions of his two lieutenants, who were by virtue of their own charts both sympathetic and subject to his. Thus, they became his willing pawns in executing the grisly murders he assigned them.
In short, a Kala Sarpa dosha can reflect an extreme form of personality, with a tendency for bigotry, conspiracy theories, and fanaticism, with violent revolution as a cure for what ails society. This was essentially Manson’s message: start a race war that would transform America. Sadly, his legacy may not have died with him.
Alan Annand is a graduate of the American College of Vedic Astrology and a former tutor for the British Faculty of Astrological Studies. His New Age Noir crime novels (Scorpio Rising, Felonious Monk, Soma County) feature astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”
He’s also the author of several non-fiction books. Stellar Astrology, Volumes 1 & 2, offer a wealth of time-tested techniques in the form of biographical profiles, analyses of world events, and technical essays. Parivartana Yoga is a reference text for one of the most common yet powerful planetary combinations in jyotish. Mutual Reception is an expanded companion volume for western practitioners, covering the same subject of planetary exchange through the lens of traditional astrology.
Websites: www.navamsa.com, www.sextile.com