An Officer and a Gentleman

By Marguerite Hafeman © 2010 Dell Horoscope Magazine

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; as a boy 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 gaining power over attractive young women who were deceased, then indulging in 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 deep depression and guilt over his behavior, he was unable to stop the indulgence. His episodes would begin with severe headaches every two weeks, the mania building to a climax undeterred by circumstance. 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?

An internet Astro-Databank chart shows Francois' Ascendant as located in the critical last degree of Scorpio; another source lists an Ascendant in the early minutes of Sagittarius. (1)(2) Either way, the last and first degrees of a sign can be associated with extreme expression of sign qualities-here bespeaking compulsive lust, obsession with death, the archetype of oblivion through sexual surrender operating at its most bestial level in relations with the other (seventh house cusp in very early Gemini). Through work with many natal charts, this author has noticed a pattern of increased social challenge and dark sexual themes that seems to run through the zone between 27° Scorpio and 3° Sagittarius on one side, 26° Taurus to 3° Gemini in the zone at polar opposite. These areas are home to several stars weighted with extremely aggressive and malefic value by the ancients. Francois had no natal planets there except for Ceres (symbolizing the mother) on the Descendant. But the difficult energies associated with these zones would no doubt be triggered by transit, either as planets passed over the Ascendant-Descendant angles of the chart, or squared these areas from the intercepted (therefore perhaps subconscious) Leo-Aquarius axis of his third and ninth houses where ethics and attitude reside.

Iklil al Jabhab, the Crown of the Scorpion is formed by the stars Acrab, Dschubba and Jabbah, all in early Sagittarius. The Crown is considered fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how the martial qualities of aggression, domination, mercilessness and malice are valued. This Crown dominating Bertrand's first house of instinctual self could certainly indicate one quite motivated to exercise power over others. Its power is enhanced by close proximity to the star Toliman at 29° Scorpio 36', signifying occult and philosophical learning, stubbornness and cruelty. The star Algol Caput and the Pleiades would be placed immediately underneath the Descendant, in the area having to do with integration of external life with internal psyche. All of these stars have become associated with violence and tragedy; however they also symbolize the disowned sacred feminine. Therefore it is suggested that the ruin associated with this grouping originates in blatant disregard for or exploitation of the sacred in nature, including ones own body or someone else's body. In Gemini the culprits are Mirfak, associated with the bold, adventurous and somewhat dishonest; also Hyades, associated with scandal, violence, disgrace and imprisonment.

Astrologer Joanne Wickenburg did a limited statistical study involving serial murderers; the findings included the fact that a majority of the killers had a strong emphasis in the signs Capricorn and Sagittarius, along with an afflicted Saturn and Moon. Bertrand had a Sagittarius Ascendant and second house cusp if using Koch Houses. His Saturn and Pluto do not reflect her criteria for high elevation in the chart, but they are none the less very disturbing in placement. In 41% of Wickenburg's cases, the Moon was either the 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 the mother; Bertrand's Moon meets this standard. He also has a Mars-Sun angle within 45° and a Sun-Moon angle within 45° of a new moon, two features of significance in her study. (3)

M. Bertrand was not a killer in the usual sense; however he would seem to qualify for heinous behavior closely related. He had a cold, control-loving Virgo Moon (mother, again) in the ninth house of social structure, conjunct a sadistic Virgo Mars (critical, judgmental behavior); these planets are most elevated in his chart, also in trine to Neptune and Uranus (illusionary and volatile sense of self) in Capricorn and the second house of self-value. The north node of the Moon (drive towards authentic authority) and Black Moon Lilith (shadow self) also in this sign and house, keep easy company by aspect with sign dispositer Saturn. 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.

The ego and its conditioned behaviors would seem to be under the sway of some strangely twisted Venusian erotica, as Saturn retrograde in Taurus (ruled by Venus) broods in the sixth house of health and unresolved issues, which includes mental states. The taskmaster is in conjunction with the star Capulus, associated with the male and sexual or aggressive tendencies; Saturn, which can indicate influence of the father, also meets with the calculated point Transpluto, reinforcing critical standards of perfection. This Saturn is certainly a hard worker and prudent in financial management; however it can be too materialistic, controlling and deadly serious in love. One is moved to ponder just what Francois' mother and father were doing when at home together.

Francois' twelfth house ruler Pluto stands retrograde at the Aries Point in the fourth house of early childhood and the father, directly on the transformational crossroads between life and death. Transneptunian point Cupido, representative of idealized love is also precisely on the Aries point from the Pisces side. The fair goddess Venus rules in Libra and is elevated in the chart close by the Part of Fortune in the house usually assigned to early influence of the mother. The goddess is retrograde, which can translate into some sort of quirk in the sex drive. Asteroid Juno (committed partnerships, the wife in a man's chart) is in conjunction with her, adding further idealized compulsion to Bertrand's vision of desirable womanhood.

Venus in opposition to Cupido-Pluto-Chiron on the parental axis can indicate domestic physical-sexual abuse, while asteroid Chiron nearby in Aries adds a flavor of severe psychological wounding done by a parent. Pluto in trine to the Ascendant, also ruling the Sun and twelfth house could indicate an extreme identity crisis involving sex and death in early childhood, which had a definite formative effect on this individual's central sense of self and manhood. Perhaps Bertrand was the helpless subject of erotic asphyxiation techniques practiced by the parents, for example. As an adult, the enchantment of Dark Eros could easily include preoccupation with beautiful dead women.

These planets and points form a cardinal grand cross with Neptune-Uranus in opposition to Jupiter, pointing to extreme tension between conscious and unconscious erotic components within the man. Jupiter in Cancer is located in the eighth house of control, power, death and joint intimate relations with others; this placement would have an expansive influence over the affairs of the first (instinctual self, persona) and second (self-value, assets) houses as ruled by Sagittarius. Cancer (sign of the mother, ruled by the Moon) also embraces the Vertex of fated events and the south node of ingrained behaviors placed nearby, indicating that Francois may have inherited certain bazaar emotional-sexual compulsions through the mother. Jupiter (do it more and bigger) and the Vertex is opposed to Neptune (ideals, delusion) conjunct Uranus (impulsive behavior, alternative sexuality), both in Capricorn (do it with authority).

Was M. Bertrand consciously dedicated to his black art of sexual violation? The calculating Scorpio Sun in the eleventh house of community, friends, hopes and wishes, is in trine to exuberant Jupiter and sextile to scintillating Neptune-Uranus. Besides the loose conjunction to the Moon, his Mars (male libido) is in sextile to the Sun and in trine to Neptune, likely adding to his charisma and popularity with the women. But perhaps easy aspects involving the lights can actually be indicative of unconscious drives in service to a split-off psyche. The refined Venus retrograde, Virgo Moon and Mars would certainly be picky in choice of romantic partners, however. Mercury (communication and travel) in Libra out in the community also tends to discriminate selectively in its choice of social activities. It is in square to the nodes of Bertrand's status quo in relationships and rules the eighth house of sex, death and joint affairs; apparently Francois never missed a chance to network and make new contacts.

The septile (51.26°) is an esoteric aspect that is concerned with higher vision, sacrifice to a higher ideal; a guiding vision that leads one to fated events and circumstances. Francois has a magnificent set of septile aspects, leading from Pluto to Saturn, Saturn to Jupiter, 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; a testing process which establishes the future direction of productivity. Both aspects are anchored at Saturn; one leads to Neptune and 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?


(1) Francois Bertrand, October 29, 1823 NS, 9:00 am LMT -0:23:08, Voisey, France, Koch Houses. Source: Profiles of Crime, Astro-Data by Lois M. Rodden, Data News Press, Hollywood, CA, 1992. Chart Rating: AA.

(2) Francois Bertrand, Astro-Databank,

(3) "Sociopathic Personalities/Serial Murders," by Joanne Wickenberg, transcribed from a lecture given at the 1994 ISAR conference. .


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