Cunanan’s Brief Reign of Terror

Zip Dobyns

As usual, I had experimented with a speculative birth time for Cunanan before I got his birth certificate time from Lois Rodden. Andrew Cunanan was born in National City, just south of San Diego, CA, on August 31, 1969 at 21:41 PDT. He made a small splash in the news in the spring of 1997, but hit the big time in July, becoming briefly the FBI’s most wanted man. He murdered mostly gay men who were former friends, ending by shooting world-famous designer Versace and eight days later himself.

In my initial speculative chart, I had picked a birth time which put Cunanan’s P Moon on his Saturn and opposite his Miami Ascendant where the final deaths took place. His birth certificate time produces a tight natal Moon-Saturn conjunction just a few degrees from his Taurus Ascendant. His Virgo Sun was closely trine the Saturn-Moon and Juno in Capricorn was trine his Ascendant—earth signs in fire houses for the steam-roller potential. Both trines and fire suggest the feeling that we know what we want and should be able to get it or do it. Earth shows the realism to follow through and have a tangible effect on the earth. It is up to the individual whether the effect is constructive or destructive. Additional occupied fire signs included Venus in Leo, Mars and Pallas in Sagittarius, and Chiron, the Antivertex, and the East Point in Aries. All of these factors were in water houses, so Cunanan had the potential for inner conflict between the fire urge to do what he pleased immediately and always versus the earth-water desire to play it safe. Fire’s passion for independence can also conflict with the dependence or nurturing urges of water. Additional earth trines included the south lunar node and Pluto in both the sign and house of Virgo trining Ceres in the sign and house of Capricorn. Cunanan certainly had the potential to be successful in the material world if he had chosen to use his talents and drives in responsible ways.

Cunanan could also be charming when he chose. The fire magnetism of Venus in Leo, the Sun in its own Leo house, Mars in Sagittarius and Chiron in Aries was supported by three planets in Libra—Uranus, Mercury, and Jupiter. The conjunction of all three planets which are associated with the intellect, in addition to their placement in an air sign and the natural house of Virgo, fits the description of Cunanan’s intellectual brilliance. Air and fire are the keys to humor, and Cunanan had a keen sense of humor and a booming laugh. He was also described as very generous, typically picking up the bar tab for a party of friends.

But Cunanan’s air-water emphasis, including planets in Libra and Neptune in the natural house of Libra plus a grand trine between Vesta, Neptune, and the north lunar node in water signs and partly water houses, ended up outranking the earth. An element is strengthened by combinations of planets, signs, and/or houses in the same element as well as by aspects between different planets, signs, and houses in the element, so having two corners of Cunanan’s grand trine in water signs as well as water houses and the third corner involving a water planet adds water emphasis. However, the planets are the most important of our factors in astrology, so aspects between planets of the same element are the most important. Cunanan had Pluto conjunct a lunar node (equivalent to the Moon), sextile Neptune, and trioctile the Moon, so even without his water signs and houses, the water emphasis was powerful. Individuals with strong water may be very nurturing of others or they may feel that others should provide their needs. A healthy balance permits interdependency. Earth and fire are uncomfortable with dependency. Water and air live in the head and can be comfortable letting other people carry the load in the world. Cunanan was openly gay while still in high school, and after a short period of working in a drug store, he found he could acquire the money and expensive possessions he craved by offering companionship (and presumably sex) to wealthy, older men. But dependency takes a toll. Cunanan became increasingly greedy at the same time that his youthful looks were already slipping when he was only in his twenties. With his Leo, his 5th house Sun, his rising Saturn and Capricorn in the 10th house, he wanted to be both famous and in control. At the same time, Leo and Libra are vulnerable to the opinions of others, and Neptune in the 7th house can be expressed by overrating relationships, sometimes to the point of not wanting to live if the individual cannot have the adored mate. Also, as noted by a roommate, a dark side of Cunanan had been increasing in his life as he was attracted to sexual sadism. When a friend on whom he had a crush rejected him and he was in debt over the limits of his credit card with no prospects for financial relief, Cunanan went on his killing spree which only ended with his suicide.

The inherent cruelty demonstrated by Cunanan is not immediately obvious in his chart, though Moon-Saturn conjunctions can indicate inner insecurity which can drive people into ruthless actions. The expression of personal will, at the expense of others if necessary to achieve personal desires, is most typically found with aspect networks including Mars (along with its equivalents the Antivertex, the East Point, the Ascendant, and anything in the first house and in Aries), connected to Vesta, Pluto, Saturn, and/or Uranus and the equivalent signs and houses of all of them. When Jupiter, Neptune, and Chiron are involved, the actions can be carried to the extremes found in religious fanaticism, as demonstrated in the Inquisition. Bringing the Sun into the picture introduces the ego. Saturn can be involved in ruthless acts either because we only feel safe when we prove we are in control, or we feel we have a right to be in control. A 1st house Saturn can feel both alternatives. Mercury, like Uranus, can symbolize the ability for cool intellectual detachment. Each of the basic psychological drives can be expressed constructively or destructively. Obviously, there are innumerable possible combinations and specific details can never be predicted. Astrology shows the psychological drives. Individual choices, mostly habits, create the details. Astrology does not tell us WHAT will happen. It tells us WHY in terms of emotional drives. Cunanan had Vesta square the East Point in Aries, Mars trioctile both the Ascendant and Venus as well as more widely square the lunar nodes and Pluto, Saturn and the Moon octile/trioctile the lunar nodes and Pluto and quincunx Jupiter for questionable faith and values, and the Ascendant quincunx Uranus and Mercury. Still, I would not have expected the extreme violence he demonstrated in those last months of his life. He could have been a successful businessman or politician or a creative artist rather than someone driven by the desire to possess expensive possessions.

Probably the main key to Cunanan’s potential for violent power struggles is the placement of Mars in the 8th house square Pluto, the natural ruler of the 8th, and the exact trioctiles of Mars (personal identity and power) with the Ascendant and Venus, ruler of the Ascendant, as additional keys to personal identity. The Mars-Ascendant-Venus combination shows inner conflict, self against self, and Mars in the 8th shows the potential for fear of the power of others. Cunanan also had Mercury in Libra, and as a ruler of the Gemini in the 1st house, Mercury is another key to identity. As I have written many times, the placement of any key to personal identity and power in the 7th or 8th sign or house can be experienced as the threat that others might have power over one. We can deal with this fear by trying to win the approval of others—picking up the bar tab, being charming, offering what others want such as flattery or sex. Or we can try to control others for personal security or gratification. Or we can run away, avoiding close relationships. On the positive side, we can compromise and share power and pleasure. We can have healthy, game-playing competition where both individuals gain skill in the game, and we can help others to reassure ourselves of our own power. Astrologers with a limited understanding of the psychological principles of the subject have sometimes expressed surprise at Hitler’s ruthlessness since he had Libra rising and Sun, Venus, and Mars in Taurus—both Venus-ruled signs. But Mars, Aries, and Venus, the planetary ruler of his Ascendant, were all in his 7th house. Hitler is a prototype for the second alternative described above, and Cunanan eventually chose that path after initially pleasing others, the first alternative described.

Cunanan’s father left the family and the U.S. in 1988 after being accused of illegal activity as a stockbroker, but many children grow up in broken homes and Cunanan’s siblings did not turn against society. Cunanan lived with his mother after he was grown, from 1991 to 1994. He is said to have once slammed her against a wall hard enough to dislocate her shoulder. His major deterioration seems to have started in the spring of 1996 when he broke up with his friend Madson. His downhill path continued in the fall of 1996 when he started a spending spree, maxing out his credit. His P Moon entered Taurus in the spring of 1996, crossed his Ascendant in late summer, and his Moon-Saturn conjunction in the winter of 1996-1997. In late April 1997 he followed his former friends Jeffrey Trail and Madson to Minnesota where he killed Trail in Minneapolis on April 27. Madson’s body was found near Rush Lake on May 3. Cunanan then drove to Chicago where he tortured and killed Miglin on May 3. He used the stolen cars of his victims to continue to the next one and shot Reese, a stranger who happened to be in the wrong place, in Plainville, NJ on May 9, to steal his truck. Cunanan continued to Miami where he shot Versace on July 15. He ended his own life when he was trapped on a houseboat on July 23.

Can the asteroids clarify what was driving this murder spree? Our regular readers can guess which asteroid I looked for first—Winchester, since all the deaths except Miglin were by gunshot. Natal Winchester was in 16 Leo 37 on the fifth house cusp (Placidus). Guns were clearly a form of power for Cunanan, the royal Leo power he wanted. His closest natal aspect to Winchester was a trioctile from the Plutonian Juno in Capricorn in the 9th house, connecting his power drive to his faith. In place of faith in a Higher Power, Cunanan put his faith in himself with Mars in Sagittarius and Mercury conjunct Jupiter, and in his ability to have power over other people. During his murder rampage, Cunanan’s P 8th house cusp was in 1 Capricorn conjunct Juno and trioctile Winchester. Natal Photographica in 2 Capricorn 4 was also part of the aspect network. P Juno and P Mars in 4 Capricorn were square P Uranus and P Mars was also square P Sun, which had been conjunct natal and P Uranus for several years and only left the aspect in the middle of the rampage. Cunanan’s first murder occurred with his P Moon in 13 Taurus square P Atlantis in 14 Leo. Atlantis is often associated with the abuse of power. Natal Atlantis was in 3 Leo conjunct Venus and square the natal Ascendant, so it was an important key to Cunanan’s identification with Leo power. For additional emphasis, P Pan and P Fama were conjunct natal Venus and Atlantis during 1996-7, P Antivertex was on the Ascendant in 3 Taurus, and 3 asteroids were connected in 2 to 3 Aquarius; P Psyche, P Karma, and P Hel. They had been retrograding in 3 to 4 Aquarius at birth and by progression had returned to activate the same degrees. Natal Ate, a Greek goddess considered the personification of evil, was in 4 Scorpio 10 to participate in the massive cross in fixed signs and cardinal houses. Both the fixed and cardinal dilemmas deal with the same basic issue: learning to balance personal needs and rights with the needs and rights of others. P Ate was square P Atlantis, so it completed a T-square to the P Moon.

Adding these asteroids certainly strengthens the potential for Cunanan having serious power issues in his nature. Natal Freud on his Ascendant could be a clue to his need for psychotherapy, though for someone using his potentials constructively, it might suggest becoming a psychotherapist. Remember, natal Mars is octile/trioctile the whole cross in fixed signs, and it was activated by conjunctions from the P south node of Vesta and P Hestia, the Greek name for Vesta. The nodes carry the same meaning as the planet or asteroid whose orbit produces their positions, so this combination is similar to Mars on a double Vesta. Some of the most ruthless individuals I have studied have had Mars-Vesta or Saturn-Vesta conjunctions.

By his final killing period in July, Cunanan’s P Moon had reached 16 Taurus, where it was conjunct natal and P Isolda (famous for dying for love), plus it squared Winchester in Leo and P Damocles in Aquarius. Damocles, like the other Aquarian asteroids mentioned above, had returned to its own natal degree. The return of a progressed planet to its natal position highlights the importance of the issues associated with the planet or asteroid.

As expected, the death asteroids were also featured in Cunanan’s chart. His P Ascendant in 7 Gemini was conjunct P Libitina, opposite P Icarus, square the natal Sun and P Venus, and the Sun’s opposition to Philippina, (for Philip, which was Cunanan’s middle name), completed a grand cross in mutable signs and fixed houses. The final murder and suicide in Miami put Cunanan’s local P Ascendant conjunct natal Phaethon and P Hybris (hubris), opposite P Photographica, and square P Mercury. The three asteroids most associated with the idea of overreach and consequent disaster are Phaethon, Icarus, and Hybris, and all three were aspected by Cunanan’s Ascendant or local Ascendant, which, of course, depend on a precise birth time. A birth even five minutes earlier or later would lose these aspects.

The Arabic Parts also depend on an accurate birth time. As our regular readers know, one of the reasons I continue to use the Placidus houses is that the Part of Death, which uses the 8th house cusp, is consistently meaningful in charts involving death. Cunanan’s natal Part of Death was 29 Scorpio 8. P Winchester, the asteroid of guns, squared it from 29 Leo. P Guernica (for the deaths of innocent victims) and P Nephthys, an Egyptian goddess associated with death, opposed it from 29 Taurus. Cunanan’s natal MC in Miami was 28 Aquarius, and connected by overlapping orbs. Cunanan’s P Part of Death was in 22 Capricorn just coming to his natal MC and octile/trioctile the mutable cross of Phaethon, P Ascendant, P Icarus, the Sun and P Venus. P Nemesis was included conjunct the natal Sun and opposite Philippina. P Part of Death was also quincunx natal Philippa, another version of Philip. Cunanan’s Miami P East Point was conjunct natal Hybris and P Philippa, square P Pluto and P local MC, and quincunx Neptune. P Phaethon was on Cunanan’s Miami Antivertex and opposite P Hela, a death goddess.

I have not mentioned Sappho, which some astrologers believe is associated with an attraction to homosexuality, but I have not seen enough examples to confirm this. The asteroid was named for a famous Greek poetess who was also a mother and teacher. Cunanan’s natal Sappho was retrograding in 18 Aries 56 trine his Mars. P Sappho in 15 Aries 4 had just reached an opposition to P Jupiter and it was conjunct the natal Antivertex and the midpoint of Saturn/north lunar node and square Saturn/south node. As always, many more asteroids could be mentioned, but this is probably enough to glaze over many eyes.

While I was writing this article, the AFA Bulletin arrived with birth data for Versace, the last man murdered by Cunanan. He was born in Reggio di Calabrio, Italy, on December 2, 1946. The suggested time is 6:45 CET, but I did the chart and am dubious about its accuracy. However, we can make a few comparisons between Versace and Cunanan, ignoring angles and the Moon, which require an accurate time. One striking feature is a close conjunction between natal Mars in the two charts. This can be expressed as mutual attraction or rivalry and conflict. Versace’s P Saturn had retrograded to within just over 2 degrees from Cunanan’s Venus—again, a possible attraction, especially in Leo, but raising power issues. Versace’s Neptune was on Cunanan’s Jupiter, bringing up issues involving faith, ideals, and values. With shared beliefs and values, this could have been a positive bond between them. Another key to faith and values, Versace’s Chiron, was on Cunanan’s Descendant, a potential for partnership or rivalry. Versace’s Juno on Cunanan’s Neptune in Scorpio in his 7th house repeats the same message. A dramatic statement is made by Cunanan’s Part of Death on Versace’s Juno within one minute of longitude, especially since Juno is like Pluto and they are in the sign of Pluto. Among many striking aspects in Versace’s chart, his natal Winchester in 28 Sagittarius squared both Philippa and Philippina which were in 29 Pisces. Hel was trine Winchester and quincunx the two Philips. Hela opposed Vesta. P Sun was conjunct P Libitina and quincunx both natal and P Hel since the latter had retrograded back to its natal degree. P Neptune held a lifetime square to natal Libitina and P Uranus a long-term opposition to Mars. There is much more, but time and space are limited. I will not include the questionable chart of Versace, but readers who want to can calculate it and explore it. If the birth time is confirmed, I will include it in another issue of The Mutable Dilemma. Unlike Princess Diana, whose early death was mourned by millions, Andrew Philip Cunanan’s death brought relief to many in the gay community who were terrorized by his brief murder rampage. I wonder what he is feeling now as he looks back on his wasted talents? For any who are moved to do so, he needs our prayers a lot more than Princess Diana and Mother Teresa.

Copyright © 1997 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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