An Officer and a Gentleman

By C. Marguerite Hafeman © 2005-08

A non-commissioned officer in the French army, Francois Bertrand was expedient in his duties and well-liked amongst peers. He was also a lady’s man, polite to all and elegant in his assignations. However Bertrand also loved to annihilate things; early on he developed a hobby of masturbation while brutalizing small animals. By the age of 13 he would pleasure himself up to eight times a day, reaching ecstasy when copulating with an animal or tearing out its entrails. His favorite fantasy involved power over women, including torture and desecration upon their dead bodies. In mid-summer of 1847 he robbed his first grave, that of a 16 year-old girl. In November of 1847 he plucked up one corpse, and then collected a bumper crop of four newly buried women in March of 1848.

Although Francois experienced depression and guilt, his episodes began with severe headaches every two weeks, the mania building to a climax undeterred by terrain. Once locating a body he would perform onanism. Then the compulsion to mutilate drove him to cut, hack, stab and tear until nothing was left entire; as an aperitif he would masturbate once again. After two years of peak activity Francois was arrested, charged with necrophilia and institutionalized. Would there be any indications in his natal horoscope chart, of a passionate desire to violate the dead?

François’ Ascendant is on the critical last degree of Scorpio. The last degree of a sign can be associated with extreme expression of sign qualities-here bespeaking compulsive lust, obsession with death, the archetype of annihilation operating at its most bestial level on the Other (7th house Taurus). Scorpio ruling the 1st house of instinctual self can be quite motivated in the exercise of power over others; modern planetary ruler Pluto retrograde at the Aries Point stands directly in the transformational crossroads between life and death, opposing Venus (the women in a man’s chart) ruling in Libra. The opposition occurs across the parental axis of the 10th and 4th houses; Pluto in Aries here can indicate domestic physical abuse, while asteroid Chiron nearby adds a flavor of severe psychological wounding via a female influence. Pluto trine the Ascendant and ruling the Sun would seem to indicate an extreme crisis involving sex and death in early childhood that had a definite formative effect on the instinctive identity.

Astrologer Joanne Wickenburg did a limited statistical study involving mass murderers; the findings included the fact that many killers had an overall emphasis on Capricorn, Saturn and the Moon. In 41% of the cases, the Moon was either the highest, most elevated or lowest planet in the chart, fitting the FBI profile that serial murderers place strong emphasis on dysfunctional family and issues related to mother. M. Bertrand was not a killer in the usual sense; however he would seem to qualify for heinous behavior closely related. Cold, control-loving Virgo Moon (mother, feelings, instinct) graces the 9th house of philosophical beliefs, also conjunct a sadistic Virgo Mars (drive, aggression) indicating there is no lack of critical, judgmental behavior here. Moon-Mars are the most elevated planets in his chart and are in trine to Capricorn Neptune (making fantasies real)conjunct Uranus (sudden violence) in the 2nd house of self-value.

Jupiter in Cancer is located in the 8th house of sex and death, further noteworthy because Cancer (sign of the mother and ruled by the Moon) also embraces the Vertex of fated events and the South Node of past lives placed nearby, indicating that Francois may have inherited certain emotional-sexual compulsions through the mother. Black Moon Lilith in Capricorn accompanies the North Node in the 2nd house of self-value, standing for what blocks Francois from being able to grow past his problems. This Lilith is ambitious and wants everything under control; it feels itself superior to all others, but social circumstances do not permit the free exercise of power.

Jupiter (do it more and bigger) and the Vertex is opposed to Neptune (ideals, delusion) conjunct Uranus (impulsive behavior), both in Capricorn (do it with authority). A cardinal grand cross is formed by adding final chart dispositor Venus in Libra opposing Pluto-Chiron. Additionally, the Uranus-Neptune duo trines Venus in Libra, Francois’ beautiful and sophisticated vision of desirable womanhood is also quite elevated in the house of career and public reputation; this house is often assigned to early influences of the mother.

Was M. Bertrand totally dedicated to his black art of violation? It would seem so, with a calculating Scorpio Sun in the 11th of community, friends, hopes and wishes, trine exuberant Jupiter and sextile nefarious Neptune-Uranus. His Mars does a loose sort of semi-sextile with Venus and the Part of Fortune; no overt sexual disharmony there, although the refined Venus retrograde could be picky in its choice of romantic partners. Mercury (communication and travel) in Libra out in the community discriminates selectively in its choice of social activities, squaring the Nodes of the public at large and ruling the 8th house of sex and death. Francois likekly never missed a chance to network and make new contacts.

Saturn retrograde in Taurus (ruled by Venus) broods in the 6th house of health and work, which includes mental states of mind. The ego and its conditioned behaviors would seem to be under the sway of strangely twisted Venusian erotica, gliding in easy harmony with the Moon’s Nodes and the Black Moon. The taskmaster conjuncts the star Capulus, associated with the male, sexual or aggressive tendencies; one is moved to ponder just what Francois’ mother and father were doing when at home during his childhood. This Saturn is also a hard worker and prudent in financial management; however it can indicate one who is be too materialistic and deadly serious in love.

The septile (51.26°) is an esoteric aspect that is concerned with higher vision, sacrifice to a higher ideal; a guiding vision leads one to fated events and circumstances. Francois has a magnificent set of septile aspects, leading from Pluto to Saturn, to Jupiter to Mars, and from the Ascendant to the Part of Fortune on one side, Black Moon Lilith on the other. He also has two sesquiquadrates (135°), indicative of concrete manifestation and purposeful application of a creative concept; testing which establishes the future direction of productivity. Both aspects are anchored at Saturn; one leads to Neptune-Uranus, the other to Venus and the Part of Fortune. Was not M. Bertrand sincerely abandoned to sexual surrender in the beautiful, seductive arms of Death?

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