Jeffrey Dahmer is a prime example of a conundrum in modern life – how something so disgusting can also be so fascinating… at least for students of crime, and astrology. Dahmer was an American serial killer and sex offender who killed 17 men and boys over a period of 13 years, many of his murders involving sex with corpses, cannibalism of his victims, and the preservation of their body parts, typically portions of the skeleton.
In his youth, Dahmer had been a quiet and timid child whose high-strung mother had found breastfeeding exhausting, and therefore refused to feed him this way. When he was in grade school, she became ill and anxious, and once attempted suicide by overdosing on prescribed tranquilizers. His father was absent much of the time, working toward a university degree in chemistry.
In grade school, Dahmer became fascinated with small animals. He initially collected large insects and stored them in jars but later moved on to roadkill, dismembering the animals and keeping their parts in jars too. He was fascinated by bones and once asked his father, a chemist, to show him how to bleach chicken bones for preservation.
Dahmer began drinking at age 14, beer and hard liquor, sometimes smuggling “his medicine” into high school. At puberty he began having same-sex fantasies and once lay in wait beside a jogging trail with a baseball bat to render unconscious someone he wanted to use sexually, but his target didn’t run that day, and Dahmer never tried the tactic again.
His parents divorced before he graduated from high school and Dahmer’s drinking got worse. That summer, June 1978, while both his parents were away and Dahmer was living alone in the family house, he picked up a hitchhiker and invited him home for drinks. When the young man eventually tried to leave, Dahmer bludgeoned him to death with a barbell. The next day, Dahmer dissected his victim, and over the space of a few weeks, dissolved the flesh in acid, crushed the bones with a sledgehammer and scattered them in the woodland behind the family home.
That fall Dahmer went to university but, after a semester of negligible study and heavy drinking, he dropped out. His father convinced him to enlist in the US Army. He did two years of service as a combat medic stationed in Germany, where he raped at least two fellow soldiers, having drugged one of his victims.
After an honorable discharge, Dahmer returned to the USA, working various jobs – at a delicatessen, blood plasma center, chocolate factory – meanwhile continuing to drink heavily while living with his grandmother. He became a regular in Milwaukee gay bathhouses, but his membership at his local was revoked after they discovered he was routinely drugging his partners with a cocktail of liquor, sleeping pills and sedatives, after which he raped them while unconscious.
In November 1987, Dahmer awoke one morning from a drunken stupor to find himself lying in a hotel room atop a dead man whose chest was caved in. Although he had no memory of it, he realized he must have beaten his victim to death. He bought a large suitcase, transported the body to his grandmother’s house and over the next week, dismembered the body, separated the flesh into garbage bags and crushed the bones with a sledgehammer. He bleached the skull to keep as a souvenir and a stimulus for masturbation.
And so it began…
Over the next six months, Dahmer lured another two young men to his grandmother’s house, drugged them, raped them, killed them and dismembered them. In September 1988, his grandmother asked him to move out, complaining of his bringing young men home late at night, and the foul smells coming from the basement and garage.
Dahmer found a one-bedroom apartment of his own. In March 1989, he killed another young man, disposing of the body as with previous victims. But this one was so “exceptionally attractive” that Dahmer preserved his head and genitalia in acetone as a long-term memento.
The pattern was set. In 1990 Dahmer killed another four young men, and in 1991, another seven. In most cases, he took photos during the dismembering process, refrigerated some flesh or organs to eat, and preserved the skulls as keepsakes, meanwhile destroying the rest of the flesh in acid, and crushing the bones for disposal.
But in July 1991, one of his intended victims, a handcuff dangling from one arm, managed to flee Dahmer’s apartment and flag down a police car. Upon entering Dahmer’s apartment, the police encountered a stench of decaying flesh in a barrel of acid, and discovered frozen body parts in the fridge.
Dahmer confessed to the crimes but when his case came to trial in 1992, he pleaded insanity. The jury rejected the idea and found him guilty on all counts. He was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms. Two years later, Dahmer was murdered in prison, bludgeoned to death with a steel bar from a barbell in the inmates’ weight room.
Although deemed sane to stand trial for his crimes, Dahmer was initially diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, subject to psychosis and schizophrenia. Although his chart doesn’t display the more obvious signatures of mental disturbance, there’s enough there to register concern.
The manas is that part of the mind that acts as an operating system for the body and the personality, governing glandular function, monitoring sensory input, registering likes and dislikes, and providing a behavioral compass. The state of the manas can be judged via an analysis of three factors: the 4th house, the 4th lord, and the Moon. Any influence by the destabilizing (crazy-making) malefics Saturn and Rahu upon those three factors are warning signs.
In Dahmer’s chart, the 4th house is occupied by its own lord Jupiter, and by Saturn, both of which are retrograde. Thus, in one stroke, we see both the 4th house and its lord Jupiter destabilized by the association of a strong Saturn. Meanwhile, the Moon (karaka for the manas) is dark and waning, being less than four tithis from the Sun. Overall, this is cause for concern, but not so abnormal that it could explain such horrible acts.
All people are governed by moral principles of some kind. These are seen via the status of the 4th house (mother’s influence, and socialization via primary education), and the 9th house (father’s influence, dharma, societal law, etc). As noted, the state of the 4th reflects damaged goods. As for the 9th, its lord Venus has gone 12 away to the 8th, and the 9th house itself is occupied by the Sun, lord of the 12th, a trikasthana of self-undoing.
As for Dahmer’s temperament, note that his ascendant is aspected by the Moon, Mars and Saturn. The latter two are prime malefics, and show the potential for inflicting harm, largely under the influence of sexual fantasies as suggested by the dark moon in Pisces.
Compared to a study I’ve recently completed on the charts of 200 homicides, I was intrigued to note a few commonalities between them and Dahmer:
- After Aries and Scorpio, Virgo ascendants are the next most common. The Mars-ruled ascendants appear logical, but Mercury? Chalk it up to the cleverness required to “succeed” as a serial killer – stalking the appropriate victim, killing discreetly, and disposing of the body – all without getting caught.
- The Moon in the 7th house was observed far more often than expected by chance. This “other-directed” theme inherent in the Moon’s house position naturally embraces the notion of sexual attraction and compulsion. Sex is often a motivation for many killers, either because the collateral violence explicitly involves rape, or the act of killing provides a “sexualized” release of emotion.
- Mars in the 7th house is also “well represented” in murderers, perhaps for the same reasons as Moon in the 7th. And Mars is of course the karaka for any form of violence, sexual and otherwise.
- Malefics Mars and Saturn are angular, from both the lagna and the Chandralagna, the combination of which represents a capacity for “dirty work,” cruelty and/or violence.
When it comes to the timing of Dahmer’s murders, we should note that all of his crimes were committed during his Venus dasha. Venus occupies the 8th house, and is also considered a maraka because it rules the 2nd house. Its nakshatra dispositor is the Sun, which is the 12th lord. Thus in the Venus dasha we see the activation of two trikasthanas, something that happens so frequently in the charts of repeat offenders that we might well consider it an astrological prerequisite for a serial killer.
During his Mercury bhukti, Dahmer claimed five victims. Mercury is his ascendant lord, and is moderately combust with 12th lord Sun, which obviously aroused his sexual fantasies.
During his Ketu bhukti, Dahmer killed 10 young men. Ketu occupies the 6th, which is the 12th from the 7th and therefore a signature for “loss” of a partner, which can be variously construed as a failed relationship, a divorce, or the death of a partner.
The chaya graha always act as proxies for other planets, in descending order of influence: (1) planets with which they associate, (2) planets aspecting them, (3) the planet that disposits them by sign, and (4) the planet that disposits them by nakshatra. In this case, Ketu is doubly influenced by Saturn, which both aspects and disposits it by sign. Thus, the morbid quality of Saturn comes to bear on the nodes which in and of themselves already reflect some degree of derangement.
Finally, note within the inset graph that, over the entire span of Dahmer’s killings, most of them were committed in the antara (sub-period) of Saturn, some of which were in his Mercury bhukti, but the majority in a flurry of violence during his Ketu bhukti in the spring and summer of 1991.
As discussed earlier in the manas discussion, Saturn has a destabilizing effect on the mind. Further note that it is lord of a trikasthana, the 6th, and therefore an instigator of another’s undoing. Finally, note that Saturn occupies a nakshatra of Venus, and therefore invokes the trauma and violence associated with Venus’s placement in another trikasthana, the 8th.
One final note concerning the circularity of cause and effect, consider this. Dahmer killed his first victim in 1978 by bludgeoning him to death with a barbell. Ironically, he died the same way at the hands of a prison inmate 16 years later in 1994.
In June 1978, Dahmer was running Venus-Mars-Ketu. Venus occupies the 8th house and a nakshatra of the Sun ruling the 12th, Mars rules the 8th and is in a nakshatra of Saturn which rules the 6th, and Ketu occupies the 6th.
In November 1994, Dahmer was running Sun-Saturn-Venus. The Sun is swa nakshatra and rules the 12th, Saturn owns the 6th and occupies a nakshatra of Venus in the 8th, and Venus is in the 8th while occupying a nakshatra of the Sun ruling the 12th.
Both in his first victim’s death, and his own, all three trikasthanas were activated. What goes around comes around.
Alan Annand studied with Hart de Fouw, and is a graduate of the American College of Vedic Astrology and a former tutor for the British Faculty of Astrological Studies.
He is the author of several non-fiction books. Kala Sarpa is a first-of-its-kind reference book on a unique pattern in jyotish that is not discussed in shastra yet is part of India’s rich oral tradition. 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.
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.”
Websites: www.navamsa.com, www.sextile.com