For an entire year, from late July 1976 to late July 1977, the New York boroughs of the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn were in a high state of anxiety. Young women with long dark hair cut it short, dyed it blonde, or bought wigs to disguise their looks. A serial killer was on the loose, typically targeting young couples in parked cars on city streets. Most of the female victims had long dark hair.
By the Spring of 1977, a series of six shootings had killed five victims, and seriously injured another six. But for the first time, at the crime scene of one such double murder, the perpetrator had left a handwritten note addressed to the NYPD captain leading the investigation. In that letter, the perp called himself the “Son of Sam” and taunted the NYPD to stop him before he killed again. The media ran with that, and brunettes all over the New York area began changing their hairstyles.
It took two more attacks on couples, claiming another life, before the police finally closed in on their suspect David Berkowitz, who was arrested without a struggle in his car possessing a handgun and maps of the boroughs he’d terrorized for a year. Berkowitz turned out to be a postal worker who’d been trained as a sniper and served with the US Army in Korea. He had been put up for adoption by his original mother, suffered emotionally as a 14-year-old upon the death by cancer of his foster mother, and lived alone in an apartment whose walls were covered with Satanic graffiti. There, detectives found diaries that Berkowitz had kept since age 21, wherein he’d noted hundreds of arsons that he’d set throughout the New York area.
Although Berkowitz confessed to his crimes, and three separate mental examinations judged him fit to stand trial, he continued to talk crazy. He claimed that he suffered from demonic possession, and had received messages from his neighbor’s dog that he should kill people, particularly young women, because the demons needed their blood. Because of that, his defense lawyers wanted him to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but Berkowitz insisted on confessing. At his sentencing two weeks later, he screamed that he wanted to kill all of his victims again, and tried to jump out of a seventh-story window. He was sentenced to 25-years-to-life for each of the six murders.
In his horoscope, the astrological signatures for both “abandonment by mother” and a disturbed manas are evident. Note that the manas is an aspect of the instinctual mind, the derangement of which is often a precursor to either physiological or psychological malaise. The domain of both mother and manas is the 4th bhava. In Berkowitz’s horoscope, his 4th lord Saturn, a significator of distance and separation, has gone to the 12th bhava of isolation and loss. His 4th bhava is itself occupied by Rahu, the prime agent of derangement. Finally, the Moon, karaka for both mother and manas, gains digbala in the 4th bhava but is there associated with Rahu, meanwhile in a rashi of Saturn, a doubling-up effect that often renders the native compromised on the emotional and/or psychological level.
Although there wasn’t a label for it in the day, Berkowitz may have been a precursor of the “incel” personality that has emerged in online subcultures over the past couple of decades. An incel (an abbreviation of “involuntary celibate”) is someone who defines themselves as unable to acquire a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one. Incels are often characterized by self-pity and self-loathing, misogyny, and violence against women and sexually active people.
The 7th bhava in Berkowitz’s horoscope is in a sorry state. Venus in the 7th bhava constitutes karako bhavo nashto, a spoiler for the prospect of relationships. He has a Parivartana yoga between 7th lord Mars and 8th lord Venus, a configuration that spells irregularity at the least, and possibly trauma, in the realm of intimate relations. (Note the astrological glyphs — for Venus and Mars — in the lower right of his handwritten note, as if he knew what ailed him!) In addition, his 7th lord Mars is also in graha yuddha (planetary war within one degree of longitude) with 12th lord Mercury in the 8th bhava. Last but not least, Berkowitz may have had no moral compass, since all three of such indicators — 4th lord Saturn, 9th lord Mercury and karaka Jupiter — all occupy trikasthanas.
In the realm of violent crime, the evil that men do is typically acted upon in the conjoined periods of grahas that are linked, directly or indirectly, to the trikasthanas, particularly the 8th bhava of violence and trauma, and the 12th bhava of endings and terminal phases.
Berkowitz’s murderous rampage through the tri-borough area of New York took place entirely within the dasha-bhukti span of his Rahu-Saturn period. For all of us, the nodes act as proxies for any graha with whom they are linked, via association, aspect, or rulership of rashi and/or nakshatra. In this case, Rahu acts on behalf of its associate and star-lord the Moon, Jupiter whose aspect it receives, and rashi lord Saturn. Aside from its crazy-making influence on the manas, Rahu thus invokes Jupiter and Saturn, occupants of the 8th and 12th, respectively, with additional trik influence from Jupiter as 6th lord.
Chaya grahas aside, the other grahas act in accordance with a Nadi principle, since popularized by Krishnamurti Paddhati, that says every graha will act, first for its nakshatra dispositor, second for its own account. As an aside, it’s remarkable that Berkowitz’s horoscope has four of its grahas in Moon nakshatras, which means that for almost half of all bhukti periods, his manas would be under stress. Meanwhile, three grahas occupy Mars nakshatras, which means that for a third of all bhukti periods, some degree of frustrated sexuality and/or rage was simmering.
In the case of dasanath Saturn, its primary agenda is to work on behalf of its star-lord Mars. In this horoscope, Mars is a double maraka occupying the 8th bhava, meanwhile in Parivartana with the 7th lord, and in graha yuddha with the 12th lord. Needless to say, Mars is also the karaka for violence. Meanwhile, Saturn occupies the 12th itself and is the karaka for death. Little doubt, then, that Saturn periods could be dangerous.
Shown below is a table listing the dates of each shooting, the status of the victims, and the dasa-bhukti-antaradasa running at the time of each event. For those of morbid curiosity, one can find the specific dates, times and locations for each of these attacks under the Wikipedia entry for David Berkowitz.
|29 Jul 1976
|Lauria (killed), Valenti (injured)
|23 Oct 1976
|Denaro (injured), Keenan (injured)
|27 Nov 1976
|DeMasi (injured), Lomino (injured)
|30 Jan 1977
|Freund (killed), Diel (injured)
|8 Mar 1977
|17 Apr 1977
|Esau (killed), Suriani (killed)
|26 Jun 1977
|Lupo (injured), Placido (injured)
|31 Jul 1977
|Moskowitz (killed), Violante (injured)
Briefly, let’s consider each of these sub-period lords and their connection to the trikasthanas. Venus is lord of the 8th. The Sun occupies the 8th. The Moon has no connection to a trikasathana but is, as discussed previously, the prime indicator of a disturbed manas. Mars occupies the 8th. And Rahu, as already discussed, summons 8th bhava occupant Jupiter via its aspect upon the node.
In jyotish, a basic guideline for gochara vichara is that one should pay attention to the transits of the dasa and bhukti lords. In late July of 1976, Rahu was in mid-Libra and thus, over the course of one year, retrogressed through the balance of its own nakshatra and into Chitra, where it first crossed Berkowitz’s lagna, and then Saturn in the 12th bhava. Meanwhile, on the date of his first murder, transiting Saturn was totally combust with the Sun, both exactly on Ketu, and closely opposing Berkowitz’s Moon. Over the course of one year, transiting Saturn remained in Cancer, from which place it continued to aspect his Venus in the 7th bhava.
As the news of Berkowitz’s arrest circulated, young couples in the tri-borough area resumed their late-night trysts in parked cars, and brunettes let their hair down again. The Son of Sam was on his way to Attica, an upstate maximum-security prison that is home to some of the state’s most violent offenders.
Alan Annand is a longstanding student of Hart de Fouw. He’s a graduate of the American College of Vedic Astrology and a former tutor for the British Faculty of Astrological Studies. Aside from his consultation services, he provides private tutoring to students of jyotisha.
He’s also the author of several books. Kala Sarpa is a first-of-its-kind reference text on a unique pattern in jyotisha that is not discussed in shastra yet is part of India’s rich oral tradition. Stellar Astrology, Volumes 1-3 offer a wealth of time-tested techniques via 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 jyotisha.
Aside from his Montreal-based crime novels, his New Age Noir crime series (Scorpio Rising, Felonious Monk, Soma County) feature astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”
Websites: www.navamsa.com, www.sextile.com