Until now, my horoscope analyses have focused on celebrities who interest me in an artistic or cultural sense. Sure, they’re no strangers to controversy, but Donald Trump is a current news phenomenon, Woody Allen is one of my favorite filmmakers and he’s had a colorful life, to say the least; Taylor Swift is the world’s biggest pop star and a talented, interesting person; Ben Affleck is an accomplished actor, director and screenwriter who has been in the news recently. Those were “fun” profiles for me.
The subject of this profile, Charles Manson, is much darker and I was on the fence for a while about whether to publish it. My concern with profiling dictators, serial killers or other reviled figures is that it’s human nature for people to keep an eye out for astrological features they or those close to them share with the chart being discussed. It’s important to remember there are gentle, peaceful people who have conjunctions in common with Manson, idiots who share aspects with Einstein and introverts with placements similar to Trump. We study the specifics in charts so that we can better understand the puzzle of an entire human existence, but each chart is a single entity made up of innumerable factors combining in a unique manner. To understand the human body, doctors learn about all of its parts… but you only have a human being when those parts work together as a whole.
So, this profile is different from my past ones. It’s about a crazed cult leader and mass murderer who experienced bizarre delusions… someone who, at first glance, would seem far too unhinged, dangerous and disheveled to attract any sort of following or support. Yet, Charles Manson not only befriended Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys and other music industry figures, but also had an odd, almost hypnotic appeal to some disaffected young people, especially young women.
Venus, the planet of love, the arts and aesthetics, is in Manson’s 7th house of partnerships and relationships, in its own sign of Libra, contributing to his unlikely charisma. However, Manson’s Venus is deeply combust, as the Sun is barely a degree removed from it. I discussed the controversy and uncertainty surrounding combustion in my previous post, but in this instance, it certainly seems to fit, contributing to a significantly darker and more confused representation of Venusian qualities than usual.
Manson’s 7th house is actually quite crowded, with a four-planet stellium, including the aforementioned combust Venus, the Sun, which represents authority, power and dominance; Jupiter, which symbolizes his role as (false) guru; and Mercury, relating to communication and “getting the message out” about the cult’s deranged, homicidal vision. Mercury also has an important opposition aspect to Uranus, suggesting the strange and chaotic nature of Manson’s communication.
With a 7th house this impactful, it’s no surprise that its owner focused very seriously, in his own warped manner, on cultivating partnerships and relationships… in fact, this occurred to such an extent that, to this day, those who followed Manson while committing atrocities are generally referred to as “the Manson family.”
The other key element in Manson’s chart is a dark expression of Martian energy. All planets have the potential for a healthy positive expression or what could be termed a “shadow” expression. As the archetypal warrior, Mars’s shadow expression generally involves violence and misuse of power; some of the most literal examples of this darker Martian energy are when real soldiers have abused their power in situations such as the My Lai massacre or Abu Ghraib.
Mars is within one degree of Neptune in Manson’s chart. As one of the three outer planets, Neptune is not traditionally referenced in Vedic Astrology, but the meaning of this tight conjunction seems straightforward. Even if Neptune may not technically be considered to cause “graha yuddha” (planetary war) since it’s not one of the standard Jyotish planets, it’s still here, virtually right on top of Mars, and the general principle of graha yuddha is that planets within a single degree of each other are close enough that they conflict with each other’s energy, resulting in a warped expression of their respective qualities, much in the same way that warring nations, including the “winner,” are both beaten and battered after a long, violent conflict.
Since Mars is the archetypal warrior and Neptune is known as the planet of illusions, an undesirable expression of their combined energies = violent illusions (such as Manson famously thinking the Beatles sent him coded messages about an upcoming race war in their music). Sometimes we can expect the metaphysical to be inherently complex and esoteric, but I think this is a great example of astrology working in a manner that is simple and clear.
Manson is also an Aries Ascendant, and what would normally be a promising Saturn, located in its own sign of Capricorn, is in Dhanistha nakshatra, which, like Aries, is ruled by Mars. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having an Aries Ascendant or Saturn in Dhanistha (which is actually a fortunate nakshatra for many people). The concern in this instance is that Manson is probably about the last person in the world who needed extra Martian energy!
So, a Mars-ruled Ascendant sign and a planet located in Dhanistha, which represents the strongest single point of Martian energy in the zodiac, are problematic only within the specific context of Manson’s entire chart, psychological profile and life history. Somebody with other features in the rest of their chart and different life experiences might have used these placements to accomplish great things… which is an example of why I so frequently emphasize the importance of viewing each chart as a whole.
Then there Manson’s Rahu and Moon, which, like his Mars and Neptune, are within a single degree of each other. While Rahu does not create planetary war (since it’s not an actual planet), close Rahu-Moon conjunctions can still be problematic, combining insatiable and unreasonable desires (Rahu) with one’s emotions and feelings (Moon). Sometimes the resultant unease reaches the level of manic depression and/or paranoia. Although there is no conjunction or aspect which automatically determines a person’s psychological condition, it seems fair to state that close Rahu-Moon conjunctions are often challenging.
Looking at Manson’s entire chart, we see multiple placements suggesting the possibility of violent delusions, paranoia and other serious concerns. As we know, this manifested in an extreme and tragic manner in this instance. It’s also worth noting that Manson’s early life – (which is summarized in a succinct yet harrowing manner on wikipedia) – was horrific to an extent that’s difficult to fully imagine, so the entire situation surrounding him, his direct victims and the many others deeply hurt by his actions was essentially a “perfect storm” of terrestrial and celestial misfortune.
Manson’s chart also suggests one of the ways astrology could be beneficial if it were more commonly understood and utilized in our society. If the warning signs associated with his chart were noticed earlier – and, in my view, they would have been rather simple for most Vedic Astrologers to notice – it’s possible he could have been guided in a different direction before tragedy struck. To be very clear, I am not in any way advocating finding people with “scary” charts and mistreating them in any manner – that would be awful.
Yet, it’s inescapable that some charts are more likely to manifest in a challenging way than others. With this in mind, it only stands to reason that recognizing these “warning signals” could be a positive step towards addressing potential concerns in a compassionate, helpful manner. It has to better for an informed person to provide an honest, constructive assessment, followed by attempts to help somebody before it’s too late than to sweep a potential time bomb under the rug.
Manson is, of course, an extreme example. All charts have some placements that are more challenging than others and all of us could benefit from a society that understood the language of astrology and worked in good faith to help us maximize our strengths and approach our challenges in a healthy manner, whether that meant anything from extra time practicing social skills to recognizing and treating early signs of depression to, in some more serious cases, extended psychological and/or spiritual help.