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Personal Note

Dave in FLTwo issues arose in the past days.  First, my lap top sudden quit working.  The power supply was at fault.  I’m dependent on a lap top because I’m in Florida with my son and his family.  I have a replacement lap top now but all of my programs are lost.  Discs for all that software are at home in Massachusetts.  So, I will be using some free-to-download and use replacements until I return.  Second, my e-mail was hacked.  I am told that some 9 or 10 locations in Canada are at fault.  All e-mails that are sent daily are piling up and I can’t access them as the company says they won’t let me change the password and negate the intrusions unless I pay a fee.  That is something I won’t do.  I have some work to do when I return early in January.

I am working on the charts now for Dennis Nilsen as he approaches the end of his strange career.  I will be posting again soon as I put my resources together again.  Enjoy the holidays that you celebrate and thank you for following my work.  Dave

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Dennis Nilsen: Murder Just Isn’t What It Used To Be

DN photo faceI will present one more murder-event of Nilsen;s because the Return chart and Advanced chart are instructive.  Following this posting I will move us to the period when Dennis Nilsen’s bizarre crimes led to an unbelievable conclusion.  At this point I will introduce extracts from the book, Killing for Company, that seek to explain Nilsen’s complex behavior.  Look for “Notes” in the following text.

We are looking now at a day in early January, 1983 when Nilsen had moved to a new apartment.  How he had disposed of the bodies at his previous apartment is an issue I cannot answer.  This victim was named Stephen Sinclair, 20 years old, formerly from Scotland.  He had been adopted and was discovered to have severe personality problems.  He took drugs, any kind, any time he could acquire them.  He slashed his arms on impulse.  In London he was well known by the various welfare organizations, one among many younger men who drifted about the streets, seldom working but always looking for a free hand-out to help them through the day.  He drifted from one abandoned building to the next when not on the streets or visiting a pub.

On January 26, 1983 his street-friends saw him walk off with a stranger.  Nilsen had responded to his request for help, telling him that he was heading for a McDonalds and that he would treat him to a hamburger.  Nilsen didn’t make friends easily and he was uncertain about dealing with his homosexuality.  Hanging around pubs and helping out pan-handlers was a way to work his way closer to having a relationship. 

Note:  Homicidal Behavior.  Any form of psychotic behavior can lead to murder.  Nilsen’s schizoid tendancies led him to mistrust others.  This means that they don’t want their vulnerability to show. This leads to a disproportionate effort to control others.  Feeling vulnerable, wanting control, an anger develops.  Aggression can’t be controlled.  We see this  in the following paragraph.

Afterwards they went back to Nilsen’s apartment and listened to music.  Nilsen told detectives, after his arrest (which is coming soon) that he woke up the next morning in his chair to find Sinclair dead.  Nilsen recounted that he was thinking, as he observed him, that he was now at peace and had no problems.  This was followed by the ritual of washing the body, dressing it, and then placing it in different settings about the apartment. 

Note:  Fantasy.  Schizoid behavior involves fantasy.  With so much confusion and mistrust, there has to be a comforting solution.  Fantasy provides that.  In the paragraph above, Nilsen awoke to find his guest dead.  Fantasy hid his part in that disquieting deed from himself.  Later, he bathed and cleaned the body, making it look almost perfect – certainly better then it had ever looked in life.  The body was dressed and posed around the apartment, the body was undressed and taken to bed.  The body was the perfect form of company, unthreatening and compliant.

After Nilsen’s first murder, a year’s interval existed before the second murder.  In 1980 and 1981, ten young men were killed.  In the current period, 1983, only three would die before his arrest.  When looking at this series of murders there are four common factors.  Alcohol, music, and loneliness.  Alcohol broke down any inhibitions about meeting and talking with another man.  Music seemed to be a means of putting himself at ease and in a state of unthinking concern for his killing.  Loneliness was what he was fighting against, hence the willingness to pick up strangers and to keep their bodies near him after killing them.  The fourth common factor was the brutal strangling of each of his victims.

Note:  Control.  Nilsen would often offer aid to a stranger or someone he met in a pub.  This was a selfless act.   When some later condition such as his guest asking for too much drink or food, or falling asleep in his bed, or imposing himself as a houseguest for a second time, Nilsen would get angry.  His aggressiveness would build.  If he was imposed upon, then he was vulnerable.  He had to protect himself.  At this point his acts became selfish.  We saw that in the previous posting where he killed because his guest became a nuisance.  The growing lack of control was putting too much pressure upon his fantasy world.  The fantasy didn’t want ‘agression’ within it, hence the blocking out or not being able to remember.  His murderous routines were breaking down.

 The washing of the bodies brought a sense of togetherness as did dressing and posing the bodies for several days afterward.  This was a way of reinforcing the fantasy of enjoying his guest’s company.  Yet, the fantasy was difficult to maintain.  At one point after taking the dead Sinclair to bed with him, he suddenly thought “what’s the sense of this.”  He got up and put the body in the other room.  So, he was at the point where the fantasy-world was becoming less-perfect, less satisfying.

Let us now look at his t/Moon-opposite-n/Sun Return for Jan. 24, 1983.


t/Moon opposes n/Sun in the 9th, a response (Moon) to a male, a stranger (9th house Sun) with aggressive (square to t/Mars) undertones.  n/Ascendant is in the 8th house (how one manages resources for another person).   Note Nilsen’s n/MC conjoined by n/Mars; he is always seeking control or taking action on his plans for himself or for others.

On this date t/PoF conjoins n/Uranus at the IC angle, opposing t/Uranus.  As he approached his mid-life point, Uranus was still not an easy expressional force for him to deal with.  The closeness of the n/PoF to n/Uranus gave him an impulsive nature wherein he acted without forethought.  While the PoF seems to be an alternative outlet for the Ascendant, Nilsen’s Ascendant had Jupiter nearby, moving him to always take up an opportunity to further his own interests.  While Jupiter can often be generous and express selfless actions and thoughts, Jupiter is always presenting opportunities (real and unreal) to take full advantage of.  In this chart we have t/Venus rising, only a few degrees from the Ascendant.  Venus is ‘relationships, harmony, peace and balance . . . and death.’  It is not so strange that both love and death have an affinity for Venus’ presence.  Both these major themes of life offer balance, peace and exhilaration.  Each of Nilsen’s murdering events started off with some form of love and balance and then ended with death.  Let us now advance this chart for two days.


So, what has changed in two days time?  The Ascendant is closing upon t/Venus which square t/Chiron; there is a need to address or adjust how one loves or relates to another person.

The IC has closed upon n/Uranus and is separating from n/PoF.  Does this indicate his impulsiveness is now in a ‘lessened’ state?  No, t/PoF has now contacted n/Moon-opposing-t/Mercury.  Nilsen’s thoughts and feelings are at odds, pointing to a form of confusion and lack of clarity in his actions.  If we jump over from n/Moon to t/Moon we will note t/Moon-opposing-t/Neptune. This is a very confusion-prone pattern.  We saw in the earlier narrative that Nilsen’s fantasy world and control of his aggression was breaking down, not serving him well.

We can see this confusion playing out in Nilsen’s later recounting to the police that he didn’t remember killing his guest, that he was listening to his music and just relaxing.  This is one form of escapism, common to Moon-Neptune.

The later washing of the body was part of the ritual he had established, as was the dressing and posing of the body over a period of several days.  He was, as the book is titled, “killing for company”.  The nodal positions come into play, especially in cyclic and return charts, when company and associations are being discussed.  It was Ebertin’s book, Combination of Stellar Influences, that noted the link between the North Node and ‘associations.’  t/Moon conjoins both t/N.Node and n/N.Node while opposing t//Neptune.  We don’t have to do any fancy interpretation for these patterns.  Just combine some key words such as ‘emotions, confusion, associations, feelings’ and appreciate that Nilsen was unclear about what to do so he did nothing – he escaped into his music and a denial of involvement by forgetting or displacing his conscious thoughts.

At this point I am not going to explore the criminal midpoints as was done in the prior postings.  At this point we have moved beyond conscious awareness of right and wrong or criminal activities.  We have moved firmly into the bizarre phase of Nilsen’s life.  I believe it safe to say that he has reached a point of being certifiably insane.  The following posts will introduce a new phase, a final phase of his efforts to understand himself.  In this he can be said to have again failed.  Until then . . .

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Dennis Nilsen’s Fifth Murder

DN photo-1Malcolm Barlow, age 24, was believed to be a bit mentally handicapped.  His parents were deceased and he had no friends.  He also suffered, and benefited from epilepsy.  He was known to sometimes induce an epileptic fit so as to induce sympathy, seeking food, shelter or money.  He also told lies.  His lack of friendships was likely due to him being very disruptive and difficult to reason with or to manage.  He also attempted to blackmail some of the men he willingly slept with.  With all of these tricks up his sleeve, plus his understanding of how to game the systems set up to help the homeless, he managed to survive.

On September 17, 1981 Dennis Nilsen left his apartment at 195 Melrose Avenue in the morning to go to his work.  Down the street he came across Malcolm leaning against a wall, not looking very well.  Upon Dennis’ inquiry, Barlow said his epilepsy pills were affecting his legs.  Dennis suggested he go to a hospital, but first took him back to his apartment and made him a cup of coffee.  Nilsen then stepped out to a nearby phone booth and asked for an ambulance to come.  In ten minutes time the ambulance arrived and took Barlow away.

Just as a bad penny or coin always seems to turn up repeatedly, Barlow turned up again in Nilsen’s life, waiting on his door step the next afternoon when Nilsen returned from work.  When Nilsen observed that Barlow was supposed to be in the hospital, Barlow said he was now feeling fine and had been discharged.  He was invited in and a meal was prepared for him.  Nilsen started drinking and Barlow asked if he could also have a drink.  Nilsen refused noting that alcohol and pills did not mix well.  Barlow was insistent in his usual rough manner, Nilsen relented.  A short time later Barlow was sound asleep on the sofa.

Nilsen gave him an hour of sleep and then tried to waken him, all to little avail.  After another twenty minutes, and considering calling the ambulance again, Nilsen became impatient with his intrusive visitor.  Barlow was a nuisance. 

Nilsen murdered him by placing his hand around his throat and squeezing as tightly as possible.  He held that position for several minutes, believing that he was dead at that point.  Nilsen finished his drinks, turned off the T.V., and climbed into bed.  In the morning he dragged Barlow into the kitchen, put him beneath the sink and closed the cabinet doors.  He didn’t feel like pulling up any floorboards at that point before going to work.  Barlow was the last to die at this address.  At this point there were several bodies awaiting their final disposal.

Now, knowing the story, let us look at Nilsen’s t/Moon-to-n/Sun Return chart for September 5, 1981. 


This is a second house Return placement, focusing upon his values and self-esteem.  From the story line it is clear that his initial attempt to help Barlow was well intentioned, but that the return of the rough acting Barlow was an imposition for which he felt little sympathy.  He did not like Barlow trying to force himself upon his life and home.  Eating, demanding drink, and then falling asleep all combined to cause an affront.  In the Return chart we immediately note t/Mars near the MC contacting n/Mars; anger is easily aroused.  Combine this with t/Pluto near the Asc. angle and conjoining the n/Asc. (in the 12th house) and we can sense a personal dislike being strongly acted upon.  t/PoF opposes n/Moon and squares t/Jupiter — which conjoins n/Jupiter and n/Chiron; a big or imagined hurt.  So, we have a tense and angry period lined up for Dennis Nilsen.  What might trigger any of this, astrologically?


On this date,September 18th, t/Mars had moved ahead, leaving n/Mars behind with t/Mars-conjoining n/Pluto.  t/Pluto had been near the Ascendant of the Return chart, now the attention had been shifted to nPluto — which was now in the 9th.  The moving MC had advanced thirteen degrees in the interval.  Now, only t/Venus was angular.  t/Moon-t/Chiron were in the seventh-angular house but not near the Descendant angle.  Only t/Venus was at an angular position on this day, with n/Venus being not far into the first house (seven degrees).  

The message in this simple Advanced chart is that Nilsen’s sense of self-esteem (Return t/Moon-n/Sun in the 2nd house) was now something that disturbed his comfort (t/Moon-t/Chiron in 7th) and sense of ease and balance (t/Venus-Asc.).  With so little angular activity, let us check the natal angles.  n/Asc.-t/Mercury-t/Pluto points to an intense self-preoccupation.  If we jump from t/Mercury to n/Mercury we find t/Neptune conjoining n/Mercury; an unclear and muddled picture or understanding of his thoughts and likes.  t/Part of Fortune is always worth checking out as it can tell us what actions the Ascendant might indulge in.  Here, t/PoF conjoins n/N.Node; Nilsen finds that involvement with others-associates brings changes into his life.

All in all, we seem to find this Advanced chart reflecting a series of casual and shallow moods for Nilsen being played out in an unwarranted and extreme manner.  Whereas his previous murders had all been prompted by vagueness and uncertaintly about how to relate to others, this murder was simply prompted by a dislike of being inconvenienced.   

Awhile back I introduced the use of specific planetary pairs that indicated specific types of criminal or psychotic behaviors.  I will look at these midpoints for this advanced chart to see which are activated by a transiting third planet.  These activations involve conjunctions, oppositions, squares, semi-squares and sesquiquadrates (135 degrres, also known as the ‘square and a half’).

While the standard approach to commenting on a chart is OK, the use of midpoints provides a more-specific interpretive value.  This is especially true when we mix in the context-sensitive midpoint approach.  We always have three planets working in combination, so the statements tend to be more complex and specific.

  • Mercury = Sun/Pluto (1d, 0m); Thoughts dwell on control, manipulation.
  • Jupiter = Mercury/Pluto (0d, 39m);  Criminal acts bring self-satisfaction, self-esteem.
  • Jupiter = Moon/Uranus (0d, 46m);  Deals well with anxiety about his actions and feelings.  Assuredness of what he does, how he does it.
  • Moon = Saturn/Pluto (0d, 47m); Ritualistic process brings up feelings, arrousal.
  • Mars = Sun/Neptune (0d, 18m);  Acts upon a delusional fantasy, self-deceptive thoughts.
  • Venus = Mars/Saturn (0d, 31m);  Cold-blooded killings seeks some form of bonding with the victim.  This accounts for keeping and posing the bodies about the apartment.

Of the above three planet midpoint structures, Mars = Sun/Neptune and Venus = Mars/Saturn are the two most exact.  These emphasize his delusional fantasies and the need to bond with his victims after their deaths by keeping them handy for placement in poses and to sleep with them.  This is all very sick by any standard.  But, these extreme situations fit with the extreme words used to define these patterns. 

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Dennis Nilsen continues his freakish, murderous ways. Murder #2.

DN book photo-5Dec. 3, 1979.  A Canadian tourist, Kenneth Ockendon, was enjoying a hotel breakfast in London. He would be touring the city taking photographs.  He had finished visiting relatives and would be flying home the next day.  At noon he met another man, Dennis Nilsen, at a West End pub.  Dennis had left work early and was likewise enjoying the afternoon.  The two chatted awhile and then set off visiting the city’s famous spots to take photos.  As dusk fell they headed back to Nilesn’s flat to have a meal and then to go out drinking again.  They had become friends within that short period of time.

Following dinner at the flat it was decided that they would go out to buy liquor and beer, then return to the flat to watch TV and listen to music.  They were enjoying each other’s company.  Dennis later recounted that this was the happiest day of the year for him.  Only one thing seemed to bother him; his new friend would be leaving the next day to return to his own country.

Ockendon never did return home.  The newspapers had reports and stories which raised the question of why he didn’t return, where he was now.  He had disappeared.


t/Moon-opposite-n/Sun Return of Dec. 3, 1979

Dennis did not have a clear recollection of that night’s happenings but did remember the following days.  This gets very bizarre and may disturb some readers.  Dennis remembers that night  dragging his new friend across the floor with the cords of his ear phones.  To do so, he must have strangled his recently-acquired friend first.  This was stated as happening after midnight, technically Dec. 4th.  They must have both been quite drunk.  Dennis unwrapped the cord and put the ear phones on, made himself a drink and then listened to music with the other man laying dead on the floor.  He later stripped the body and cleaned it up.  He then placed the body in the bed and then he got into bed and fell asleep.

Let us review this Return chart which occurred on the day of the meeting and just hours before the murder.  t/Neptune-IC can indicate both the drinking that occurred that evening as well as the inability to fully remember the events.  Note n/Mercury near t/Neptune-IC; distorted memory functions.  t/Saturn-Asc. points to the harshness that seems to emerge from Nilsen when he is with others.  That may come directly from the natal Saturn-MC-Mars pattern which links Saturn’s rigorous tones with his own sense of career and self-direction which is, in turn, subject to the aggression and anger he places upon his view of the world about him.  He has always had to fight for a place in the world which has always made life difficult for him; this being his interpretation of his chart’s expression.  We might choose to link this to his feeling vulnerable as a child to the poverty and tough living conditions, and the difficulties fitting in and being accepted by others.

The following day of Dec. 4, 1979, he cleaned up the apartment, got rid of the man’s clothes, and then placed him, doubled up, in a cabinet.  In the evening he took the body out of the cabinet, dressed it, and then later placed it under the floor boards of the apartment.  Over the next two weeks he would take the body out of its hiding place, place him into an arm chair, talk and drink. Then he would wrap the body up and replace it under the floor boards.  Apparently the apartment was either built directly over the ground or over a cold cellar area as the body, according to Dennis, stayed ‘quite fresh.’  The book doesn’t, at its recounting of this particular murder, mention the final disposal of the body.  That may come later in this very complicated story.  Let us advance the Return chart one day to Dec. 4th.


This Dec. 4th chart is calculated for 12:44 AM, very close to the actual time of the murder it would seem.  Note t/Saturn exactly on the Asc. and opposite the t/Part of Fortune (PoF).  (Recall my comments on his natal Saturn-MC-Mars pattern).  How his anger and inability to cope with life is expressed seems here, now, to be subject to the whims of the moment.  t/Pluto, not angular in this chart, is conjoining the n/Ascendant — a ‘substitute’ condition.  He has now established a mode of operation in his ‘pick-up’ relationships with other young men.  So, we have all angles of the chart, both natal and transiting-cyclic, activated.  Keeping the bodies tells us that he wants to retain their company while at the same time providing his own rules of conversation and comportment.  Apparently they do not satisfy him in all the ways he would like.

If we try to rationalize the behavior or removing the body from its hiding place and playing ‘company’ with it or sleeping with it before returning it below the floor boards, we might chock that up to Venus squaring Neptune; a perverted love or fantasy.  Natal Venus squares natal Pluto; a “love for the dead” is one way to state this.   We have to remember that Dennis was very upset over his grandfathers death and also over the man who drowned behind the school.  He never quite grasped the full meaning of death when it occurred to others, or how it should impact him.  We will see this pattern of wanting to keep the dead close to him during the balance of his killing career.  We saw something similar a few years ago when I blogged about the Scottish killer Brady who looked into his victim’s eyes while they died.  He later said that he never found what he was looking for in the death’s of others.

In many cyclic charts I have noted Venus being angular at the time of death OR at the time when one falls in love.  Both situations have one similarity; life seems to suddenly be brought into balance and harmony.  In this case t/Venus is in the 4th house but it can only represent the death of another — or can it also apply to Dennis himself in some way? With n/Venus square n/Pluto Dennis seems to struggle with the concept of death or dying and how to relate to it.  With recently acquired friends whom he kills, all of the affection or Venus-qualities would largely have to be his own — projected upon the other person.  If their continuing company, after death, is satisfying to him then their death’s have less meaning.  If their death and the role they conversationally and physically provide for him is not satisfactory, then he ultimately does not find satisfactory answers in their deaths.  So, he kills again.  Does that make sense to you, the reader?

We will follow more of Nilsen’s twisted path toward reconciling his relationship to death in the following blogs.  Dave.

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Dennis Nilsen; His First Murder on Dec. 30, 1978 of Stephen Holmes.

DN army cook photo-4This photo is of Dennis Nilsen when he was a cook in the Army.  Following his army experience, Dennis had a number of jobs which allowed him to maintain himself with housing and a quiet single life.  One of his more successful jobs was as an Assistant Constable.  He quit this work after a year, surprising those he worked with.  He was finding it difficult to engage in such an ethical line of work with the ever increasing brutish fantasies that were becoming so big in his life.  Work as a security guard was not demanding, but it was totally boring and mind-numbing.  Having others to associate with was necessary, life with his dog alone was not sufficient.  Those he met in the local pubs providing many experiences ranging from frustrating to possibilities, but all those relationships failed to work out.  Part of his problems stemmed from his being involved in various union activities.  These union activities brought conflict and often unpleasant reactions, ending in his over-zealousness being unapprectiated.  Something had to change.

Just before New Years Eve, on Dec. 30th, he met a young man and took him home with him to his flat.  They undressed, laid down in bed, but had no sexual contact.  Dennis awoke a couple of hours later and sat, contemplating the young man sleeping in his bed.  The fear of this new ‘friend’ leaving him gripped his thoughts.  That couldn’t happen, he would not let that happen.  Solution: he climbed on top the youngster and strangled him.  There was a short struggle, but death soon came.  In the book, Killing for Company, Dennis Nilsen noted, “. . . it was the beginning of the end of my ife as I had known it.  I had started down the avenue of death and possession . . .”

Years later, after being arrested, the police asked him what had started him off on his murderous career in 1978?  Nilsen replied that he had never stopped asking himself the same question and had not yet found a reply.  His t/Moon-to-n/Sun Return chart is shown below.


The t/Moon-n/Sun in this chart is posited in the 11th house.  The book-theme states, “Contributing to joint ventures having a public benefit.  Training others, supporting creative efforts of others.  Launching or completing a financial venture.  Teamwork.  Changes in the financial structure of a career.  Seeking to include others in the community.”  This generic statement fits most of life’s likely developments but it does not fit an aberration such as choking the life out of someone.  What if we just extract words that might fit the situation: joint ventures, changes, include others.  No, that doesn’t fit well, either.  What else might we find applicable in this chart?

  • t/Sun-t/Mars in the 1st house of action;  Intent to express anger, take action.
  • n/Neptune in the 10th house of life direction;  Lack of clarity. (squares t/Sun).
  • t/Chiron-IC, 5 Taurus, square t/Jupiter-n/Mars; Seeking to rectify a feeling of hurt and past frustrations.
  • n/N.Node at Desc.;  Involvement with others.
  • Note the T-square between t/Sun-t/Mars to n/N.Node square n/Neptune which wraps together the above statements.  Also note that an angular t/Mars means we have to consider the position of n/Mars-n/MC-t/Jupiter as part of the story.
  • t/Mercury-t/Neptune in the 12th house, square t/Saturn and opposing n/Uranus, another T-Square but in cadent houses and mutable signs;  considering thoughts of harshness (Mercury-Saturn), impulsive thoughts of fantasy.

These seem valid but may not fully explain Nilsen’s frame of mind.  For complex charts involving intricate theme to understand subtleties of behavior, it is helpful to turn to the use of midpoints.  Astrologer Kevin Prosnik has studied criminal behavior and murder, and uses specific combinations of planets, combinations he refers to as Astromes.  I will use his work here to highlight this Return chart (not the natal chart).

  • Sun=Neptune/Pluto (1d,21m);  Intent and actions reflecting criminal insanity.
  • Venus=Neptune/Pluto (1d,42m);  Involvement of another as a trigger to insanity.
  • Uranus-Neptune/Pluto (0d,38m);  An impulse to engage in criminal insanity.
  • Mars=Sun/Pluto (1d,0m);  Passionate act to control and manipulate.
  • Mars=Moon/Uranus (0d,53m); Acting to overcome fear and anxiety, to be calm.
  • Jupiter=Moon/Mars (1d,26m); Letting an angry temperment gain excess.
  • Chiron=Moon/Mars (0d,49m);  Hurts and humiliation of the past strongly expressed, relieving those hurts.
  • N.Node=Moon/Mars (0d, 26m);  Involving others as part of relieving anger, conflict in himself.
  • Ascendant=Sun/Neptune (1d56m); Feeling and constructing delusional fantasies, psychotic delusions, personality disorders.
  • Ascendant=Mars/Saturn (2d,20m);  An isolated man who takes action, kills.
  • Mercury=Jupiter/Pluto (0d,09m);  His mind dwells heavily on murder and sexual pleasure, dominance seeking.

The above two-planet pairing, combined with a planet that squares-opposes-conjoins-semi-squares or sesquiquadrates (135 degrees) that pairing activates these murder-oriented thoughts and actions in those who are susceptible.  The parenthesis indicate the closeness of the midpoint aspect.  The ‘bolded’ comments reflect those patterns who are less than one degree from exact, the ‘bolded-italicized’ comments reflect patterns which involve the Ascendant which is a personal point of action.

The above is plenty to give us thought and consideration.  Let us look at the Advanced chart for the date of this first of many murders.


t/Sun-t/Part of Fortune (t/PoF) are close to the Ascendant; how Dennis acts today is a combination of intent (sun) and opportunity (PoF).  The square to n/Neptune brings in vague and difficult-to-define delusions to his actions.  t/Chiron-IC continues to sensitize his struggle to deal with past or imagined hurts.  n/N.Node-Desc. brings into reality an association to help fill his fantasy.  Also, in the first house but not close to an angle, is t/Mars-t/Moon; an aspect that fuels the emotions and fails to control his actions.  This Mars-Moon pairing opposes n/Moon, increasing the emotional tensions within him.

As noted earlier, when questioned by police several years later at the time of his arrest, Dennis was unable to define these strong and complex feelings.  He was driven to act but seemed to not be able to control or strongly direct many of his actions.

Following the strangulation of the young man in his bed, Dennis Nilsen dragged onto the floor.  He took a tie from the pile of clothes on the floor, left there before they went to bed, and looped it around his victim’s neck.  The young man immediately came alive and fought for his life.  Dennis was surprised, thinking him to be dead.  The struggle took them across the floor, knocking down the coffee table.  The victim slowly went limp.  Yet, death had not yet come, breathing was still evident.  Filling a bucket with water, Dennis pulled his victim up and across a chair, his head and upper torso hanging down.  He held the other’s head under water until the bubbles stopped rising.

Dennis sat in his apartment, letting the exertions and tensions subside while having a cup of coffee.  Later he went for a walk, returned, and still had not decided what to do with the body.  The next day he made a decision.  He ripped up floor boards in his apartment, wrapped the body, and slid him under the floor.  He replaced the floor boards.  The body remained there for almost eight months.  On August 11th, 1979 he brought the body out to the garden and burnt it in a bonfire.  A tire was placed in the fire to help hide the very distinct smell of a burning body. 

Dennis Nilsen murdered a dozen-or-so men over several years.  I will not cover all of those, but will seek to highlight events and charts which show his confusion, insanity, and more dramatic events — including the unbelievable events of his final murder, discovery and arrest.  We may utilize midpoints again as a tool to dig deeper into his thoughts and actions.  It may be necessary to explore midpoints as a separate issue for the benefit of the early-studies astrologers who follow this blog site.  Dave. 

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The Path To Becoming A Serial Killer

DN young photo-3Dennis Nilsen, born Nov. 23, 1943 at 4:00 AM in Scotland, relocated to London, England.

Nilsen is one of England’s more notorious serial murders, killing and dismembering a dozen or more young men over the course of decade.  He grew up in Fraserburgh, Scotland and was a better-than-average but not outstanding student.  He found family life and his surroundings to be very limiting.  His mother had divorced his father when he was quite young.  Dennis was fond of his grandfather, but he passed away, leaving no male figures in his family.  His mother worked very hard to support himself and two siblings; still, life was very hard for the family.  He joined the Army in 1961 to escape an environment which held no promise for him.  He left the Army in 1972 with the rank of Corporal.  He took a job as an assistant Constable with the Police but quit after a year, moving through a series of low-level full and part-time jobs sufficient to pay his way through life.

Let us review his early life.  At the age of twelve he became quite moody, wandering off on his own to get away from his mother’s concerns and restraints.  He loved the town’s harbor area and the fishing boats.  He would spend hours at the sea side watching the crashing waves ebb and flow.  These activities kept him away from home where his mother and other women struggled to work and earn enough to hold the family together without the presence of his divorced father.

At a later date, an older man of the community wandered off.  Many people turned out to search for him.  Dennis and a friend found his corpse at the edge of the River Ugie behind the school.  Dennis was very upset, he was reminded of his grandfather who had been a revered figure in his early childhood.  Dennis could not comprehend the reality of death.  A short time later, at age fifteen, he left school without having had any sexual or romantic contact with girls or an established friend among the boys.  After exploring the local opportunities for work, Dennis decided to join the army.  He left town on a train in early September, 1961, headed for a new life.

As a boy soldier he was immersed into a rigid routine.  He learned to be part of a team.  The physical exercise workouts were particularly difficult for his frail frame.  With persistence he managed to graduate three years later into the regular army.  It was in these early years in the regular army that he realized his attraction to certain other young men.  He came to see himself as ‘bi-sexual’ but took great pains to hide his feelings.  Later in his army career while at the Persian Gulf area, he was given a room of his own as a perk of his job as a cook.  At this time he was able to have a young Arab boy share his bed and satisfy his sexual desires.  The balance of his army career reflected his struggles to find lovers and to deal with the emotional conflicts that were produced.  He left the army in 1972 at age 27.

He had come to recognize his homosexuality but chose to not reveal it to others he knew or worked with.  He did frequent the local pubs and associated with other young men who were gay.  For awhile, that was all that happened; he associated with them.  Then, the date came when he first murdered a man named Stephen Holmes.  Before we start to explore his murderous trail, we need to take a deep look at his natal chart to see what might have contributed to these situations.


This London-based natal chart’s MC and Asc. angles change by only 2 degrees (MC) and 3 degrees (Asc.) from the Scotland birth chart.

Our attention is first drawn to the MC and Ascendant angles; the MC is straddled by Saturn and Mars, the Ascendant angle has Jupiter three degrees above where it conjoins Chiron.  Each planet symbolizes a range of possible expressions.  While Mars-Saturn can be seen as either a disciplined (Saturn) application of effort (Mars) or as an inability (Saturn) to act decisively (Mars), it can be interpreted for a murderer as cold-blooded (Saturn) aggression (Mars).  In this chart the MC is within one degree of the midpoint between Mars and Saturn; overcoming difficulties, suffering of the soul without complaint, experiencing mourning and bereavement.

It will be fruitful for us to utilize these midpoint patterns to better understand what drove this man to kill so many others that he became acquainted with.  The use of midpoints will be explained in depth a little later in this text and in following blog postings.  First, we need to look at a few other factors in this relocated natal chart.

Just above the Ascendant, in the twelfth house we see Chiron (“K” with a circle below it) and Neptune (the trident symbol).  A few months earlier the faster moving asteroid Chiron had conjoined the slower-moving Neptune, beginning a seventy-year-plus cycle at five degrees of Libra.  Research suggests that this cycle relates to those who are sensitive to a wide range of vague social conditions which they seem to collect and associate with the pains and wounds of their own personal life.  These vague pains need some form of focus for an outlet.  Because Jupiter conjoins Chiron and also exactly squares the Moon at 18 Cancer, the Moon-Jupiter pattern becomes the focus of expression.  Moon-Jupiter patterns seek social meetings, pleasures, gains of satisfaction.  However, like all complex symbols (Moon and Jupiter), there can be two sides to consider.

  1. Feelings of kindness, social conscience, an obliging and helpful nature.
  2. Indifference, negligence, inner conflicts with one’s outlook on life.

These statements are derived from Ebertin’s classical standard, the Combination of Stellar Influences, which is the definitive work on midpoints.

Because Nilsen’s Ascendant is so close to Jupiter-Chiron, and Chiron-Neptune are at the start of their many-decades-long cycle, we can therefore summarize the expression of this complex pattern as “Being heavily influenced by his sensitivity to the socially downtrodden plight of young adults struggling with both hand-to-mouth existence and coping with homosexual issues in a society very intolerant of their needs and place.  Nilsen’s own life views relative to his fellow homosexuals is a mixture of needing social contact and an inability to grant them individuality and respect for their living condition.  It is only in their death that his swings from benevolence to indifference-injustice that he can identify his own conflicts and think about how he might resolve his own problems.  The square aspect to the Moon in the ninth house brings mood swings and changes in his outlook of these semi-stranger’s life conditions.  Since the ‘square’ aspect represents a conflicting challenge, it may never actually lead to a solution unless some other event or triggered pattern comes into play.

So, before we have even gotten into a standard set of comments on this natal chart, we have already painted severe complexities which will constantly color our judgment of the chart’s multiple symbols.

Note:  On my other blog site, , I am exploring a very similar natal chart dated several weeks after Dennis Nilsens birth.  In that chart the Moon was also the focus for the Chiron-Neptune pairing, but the Moon was in opposition.  That person also joined the army but became an intelligence officer, married, and had a productive career.

Venus is late into the first house where it squares Pluto in the tenth house.  Venus-Pluto leads to compulsive love, sensual pleasure and great attraction, love fantasies, strains in one’s love-life. This is not an easy pattern, being challenging. wanting to be challenged and then finding that one is tired of the challenge.

There are no opposition patterns in this chart; oppositions tend to provide perspective and a sense of balance or a need to establish balance or moderation.   We can note the trine (120 degree) aspect that lends to an easy assimilation between the Sun and Mars and what they represent.  Sun-trine-Mars suggests an easy use of one’s masculinity and purpose.  By itself, that would be good. But, the Sun has a semi-square (45 degrees or half of a 90 degree square) aspect to Chiron.  This is as difficult to express positively as the square aspect.  How might a second-house Sun work with a twelfth-house Chiron?  One’s sense of self-esteem and confidence (Sun) has to overcome feelings of inadequacy based on his early home life (missing parent, lack of opportunity and frustration over not having a future). 

We have one more factor to consider in this brief look at the natal chart.  A few months earlier from his birth date, on July 9, 1945, there was a Solar Eclipse at 17 Cancer, very near the Moon in his natal chart.  A solar eclipse on one’s natal Moon focuses on which of two opposing energies, the Yin or Yang, the male or female, will become more important in one’s life.  The issue of integrating these two forces, of balancing ones nature, becomes a persistent factor in life. This is one more signification contributing to the homosexual inclinations for Dennis Nilsen. 



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King Henry VII Solidifies The Tudor Family Succession

Henry photo-5Henry’s plans, before he set sail for England, was to raise an army, gain some allies, defeat King Richard, and to marry Elizabeth of York.  This last step was intended to unite the houses of Lancaster and York, thereby ending the drawn-out War of the Roses.

After killing the King at the Battle of Bosworth Hill, Henry celebrated at Leicester and then proceeded to London as the conquering hero.  ‘Hero’ may be a strong word to choose given the many split loyalties among those who subservient to the Crown, no matter who was Elizabeth of York photowearing it.  In any case the newly self-crowned King arrived and began the arduous task of consolidating power, taking over the treasury and receiving the nobility who had to offer their fealty as well as plead or bargain for lands and the share of the wealth that their lands generated for the King.

Following the crowning ceremony King Henry set about proposing marriage to Elizabeth of York.  This may or may not have been personally agreeable to Elizabeth but she knew that her family and the country needed peace and a resolution to this war.  It was a ‘no-brainer.’

The date of their marriage was set for January 18, 1846.  Henry had a t/Moon-to-n/Sun Return on Jan. 16, 1486.  That chart is shown below.


At the start of this blog-series a question was posed about whether the not-yet-discovered outer planets played a role in these charts for several centuries prior to their discovery.  Above, we immediately note n/Pluto exactly on the MC.  Henry’s plan for ending decades of war and of uniting the two warring families is certainly a revolutionary concept, a concept that would alter England’s future.

Fittingly, t/Moon-to-n/Sun is at the IC angle, indicating an ending and a start in a new direction.  Since n/Sun represents Henry, and Henry represents England, it would be the country that would embark on a new course.  Note t/Part of Fortune (t/PoF) in the first house squaring n/Pluto.  This course of action and what it represented was likely to be a shock to some who had built up their alliance with one house while ignoring the other house.   The weaving of palace intrigue must have been something to witness.

n/Moon was in the first house squaring the t/Moon-n/Sun position.  Uncertainty is indicated in how the populace might take this marriage.  Many in either the house of York or Lancaster must have thought this would not work out smoothly.  We can also note t/Venus-n/Venus in the 4th house, promising that the marriage would work out as planned.

The Advanced chart for the date of marriage is shown below.


In the intervening two days time little has changed.  t/Moon has moved ahead to conjoin t/Venus, bring a peaceful conclusion to this tension-filled ceremony.   t/PoF has advanced to contact t/Saturn and approach n/Saturn-t/Neptune.  The swirl of changes due to this union cemented the circumstances and reduced any possibility of unsettlement caused by disgruntled nobles.  

The outer planets have played a role in some of these charts.  Perhaps these charts pertaining to the joining of the warring families can be seen as the best example of bringing widespread social change to England.   Henry went on to rule England until his passing in 1509.   The crown passed peacefully to his son who would be known as Henry VIII.  While Henry VIII caused a lot of problems, they were limited to the family and immediate court.  The country, as a whole, remained free from the upsets of never-ending war.    Dave.



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