The Au Pair Case
The legal case involving the death of the baby, Matthew Eappen, was discussed in the Sagittarius 1997 issue of The Mutable Dilemma. At that time, we had the full birth data for Matthew, but did not have it for Louise Woodward, the nanny accused of killing Matthew by shaking him. He died of a brain hemorrhage on February 4, 1997. Louise was arrested and her trial started on July 10 in Cambridge, MA. She was convicted on October 30, and on October 31 at 3 P.M. was sentenced in Boston to life imprisonment. Following an appeal by her lawyers, who were widely condemned for holding out for an acquittal and not permitting a charge of manslaughter to be considered, a judge reduced her conviction to manslaughter and freed her from jail on November 10, 1997 at about 7:30 P.M.
Lois Rodden provides the full data for Louise Woodward in her June 1998 Data News. Monica Dimino got the data from her piano teacher with whom Louise’s parents were staying during the trial. The parents say that Louise was born at 3 A.M. on February 24, 1978 in Elton, England.
The chart is a dramatic one, far more so than would be likely for an ordinary criminal trial, but appropriate for a person who was featured in media all over the world. The case even drew the attention of the two governments, Woodward’s home country and the U.S., which sought life imprisonment for her. Despite her birth time being given as an even hour, which most astrologers assume means that it has been rounded off, I think that Woodward’s chart is probably close to accurate. Pluto, one of the keys to endings, including death, is conjunct the MC within one degree. N and P Mars are on the 8th house cusp, again within one degree, to again highlight the Pluto principle. Two versions of Louise’s personal name asteroid are aspecting the Ascendant. P Louise was in Virgo square her Ascendant throughout the traumatic year of 1997, and both N and P Luisa were quincunx her Ascendant from Cancer. For further emphasis, P Vesta was conjunct the Ascendant and N Venus squared it from Pisces. Woodward’s P local 8th house cusp completed a mutable grand cross in Gemini, holding the aspect throughout 1997. P Medea (who killed her children) was opposite the Sun/Moon midpoint just above the Ascendant and connected by overlapping orbs to the Descendant and P 8th cusp by another asteroid named Dembowska, which I have found to be very similar to Saturn.
This is one of those charts about which you could literally write a book. It is just hard to know where to start and when to stop. The mutables are featured, with Vesta, Ascendant, Pallas, and Neptune in Sagittarius, Mercury, Sun, and Venus in Pisces, Jupiter in Gemini, and the Moon in Virgo. Jupiter is too wide to call the combination a grand cross, but it is a moderately close T-square, with the Moon exactly square Neptune and Venus exactly square the Ascendant. The mutable issues involve beliefs, values, ethics, etc. Individual expressions of them may range from the perpetual student to the teacher or writer or traveler. Louise was arrested just short of her 19th birthday, so she was obviously only doing the travel part of these potentials. Mutable challenges may involve conflicts between one’s ideals and what is possible in the world. Alternately, individuals may need to clarify beliefs, values, and goals, or they may have conflicts between different values. Woodward’s chart is highly idealistic, with its emphasis on the signs and houses of Sagittarius and Pisces and a rising Neptune, but that can be a two-edged sword. It can lead to major frustration when the world fails to live up to our ideals. Shaking a crying baby is certainly possible in a minimally educated young person with a good bit of fire for impatience. It is highly unlikely that Louise had any intent to harm her young charge, so either manslaughter or accidental death was certainly the appropriate charge if Matthew’s death was connected to her actions.
The prominence of Pallas, conjunct both the Ascendant and Neptune, is appropriate for the questions of social justice which were raised by the case, and also for the entry of politics into the picture as public opinion in England watched the proceedings with alarm and often outrage. Dramatic charts with unusual numbers of close aspects tend to occur when large principles are at stake, not just run-of-the-mill events and people. Woodward’s trial called attention to the major issue of child care in the U.S. as increasing numbers of mothers are being forced to go to work without adequate provision for their children. Commentators pointed out the irony of the double standard which attacked wealthy professional women like Matthew’s mother, who could afford a live-in “nanny,” implying they should be home with their children, while ending welfare and forcing poor single-parent mothers to go out to work, leaving their children to be “raised” by gangs.
The importance of Pallas, with its potential connection to social causes, lawyers, and politics, was also shown by its forming a T-square to the midpoints of Saturn/lunar nodes. These midpoints point to areas in life where we need to learn something, and if we learn it, we have something to give to the world. Overlapping orbs bring in the Moon and Neptune, with all factors in mutable signs and the Moon and Saturn/north node in a mutable house. The chart keeps repeating the emphasis on knowledge, ideals, ethics, with the possible details including law courts, foreign countries, and other letter nine associations.
The major fixed emphasis involves letter eight, as already mentioned. Pluto on the MC is the most elevated planet in the chart. Uranus is in Pluto’s sign, Scorpio, and Mars, the co-ruler of Scorpio, is on the 8th cusp, with Saturn in the 8th house. Putting Saturn in the natural house of Pluto and Pluto in the natural house of Saturn repeats a theme connecting the 8th side of life to lessons. Pluto lessons may involve learning to give, to receive, or to share with others, or they may call for learning self-knowledge and self-mastery, usually through interactions with others. Often, the lesson involves learning moderation, when is enough, and how to let go. The last option is sometimes learned through losing someone in death.
Woodward’s chart also points to lessons in personal action, since the Saturn sign, Capricorn, is in her first house of self-will in action. Ceres in the first house shows an identification with working in a nurturing way, so a career as “nanny” is appropriate. Juno in the first house shows a desire for marriage, and then the first house Ceres is likely to be expressed through having her own children. Both of the auxiliary Ascendants, the East Point and the Antivertex, are in Capricorn, indicating an identification with work, but also a desire to be her own boss if possible.
Though the mutables are very strong in Woodward’s chart, her cardinal emphasis is also strong, pointing to the potential for power issues, including power struggles. The East Point and Juno in Capricorn oppose Mars in Cancer, and Pluto-MC complete a T-square which is really a grand cross when we include the IC in Aries. A second cardinal T-square is formed by Ceres square the lunar nodes. Mixtures of conflict aspects involving cardinal or fixed factors combined with strong idealism are best handled by having game-playing competitive outlets such as sports. Lacking a competitive outlet can lead to repression of one’s power and illness, or to projecting it and being attacked by the world, or to displacing it and ending with rivalry in relationships which should be cooperative.
When Woodward’s chart is progressed to February 4, 1997, we can see clear indications of stress. Her P Moon squared her N Sun and P Icarus in 5 Pisces, a warning of overreach and a fall. P Moon was also in a yod (double quincunx) to her local MC in 5 Leo and the asteroid for her location, P Massachusetts, in 5 Capricorn. It also opposed Atlantis, an asteroid often associated with the abuse of power or power struggles, and it was trioctile Hela, one of the death goddesses. Phaethon, another asteroid associated with overreach, was progressing over Woodward’s IC, a point which, like the 8th cusp, is often associated with endings, including death. The P south lunar node, a key to lessons, remains in a conjunction with N Phaethon in Aries for many years.
A major configuration involved Woodward’s Ascendant. P Vesta on the Ascendant has been mentioned. With its Virgo significance, it shows the possibility of issues around work and/or health, and the danger of an intense focus that leads to ignoring other important areas in life and sometimes serious alienation of other people. The local P 8th house was opposite the Ascendant and conjunct Dembowska (a Saturn-like asteroid), which was on Medea, who killed her children. Woodward’s local P Ascendant in 13 Scorpio was quincunx the P L 8th cusp and sextile N East Point to form another yod, a configuration often associated with a major new direction in one’s life. As previously mentioned, P Louise squared the Ascendant, which connected it to the rest of the configuration, and P Themis (divine justice) in 14 Pisces and P Karma in 15 Pisces completed a grand cross. The Antivertex, an alternate Ascendant, in 29 Capricorn was also part of the network of aspects with octiles or trioctiles to the mutable factors.
Woodward’s P 8th cusp from her birthplace was in 16 Leo square Uranus and the asteroid America, while P America in 26 Taurus squared Saturn and the local P MC was conjunct P Saturn, plus both of the latter were quincunx P Sun! During her trial, Woodward’s P MC from her birthplace reached a square to P Hela, a death goddess, and P Chiron is holding a very long conjunction to Libitina, another death goddess. P Libitina had reached an opposition to the local East Point. The birthplace P East Point in 2 Aquarius was conjunct 4 asteroids with over-lapping orbs: Fortuna (which eventually came through for her), P Hela (death), P Aten (a sun god for fame) and P Gaea (as people around the earth watched her drama). The whole collection squared P Chiron, and P Gaea was high enough to reach a square to N Libitina.
Other relevant asteroids included N Brita (England, her native country) on Mercury for media attention, and P Brita on the 3rd house cusp to say the same thing. P Hestia, the Greek name for Vesta, was also on the 3rd house cusp, connecting the story to the Virgo focus on work and health. Woodward’s P Part of Death had just crossed the 3rd house cusp when Matthew died, and it was still within one degree of P Hestia. Her P local Part of Death was in 21 Scorpio, conjunct Demeter, the Greek version of Ceres, the “mother” principle. Another cluster of factors were conjunct or opposite each other with over-lapping orbs in late Gemini-Sagittarius. In Gemini were P L Antivertex, P Hygiea (a healer asteroid, which may point to a need for healing), the N south node of Mars, P Helio (a sun god), P Ascendant, P south node of Mars, and N Massachusetts. In Sagittarius were N and P Jupiter, the Part of Fortune, and P Justicia (justice). The people of England cheered when the judge released Louise, feeling that justice had been done. The parents of Matthew and the prosecutors were furious and planned to try her again. The jury had mixed feelings. Many felt that manslaughter was a more just charge but they were not allowed to consider it as a possible verdict.
I also calculated Louise’s chart for October 31, when she received a life sentence, and the progressions would not change much when she was released just 11 days later. At the conclusion of the trial and the sentencing, Woodward’s P Moon was crossing her Descendant and her local P 8th house cusp, opposite the Ascendant and P Vesta, quincunx her local P Ascendant, and trine her P Antivertex. The latter was also in a double quincunx to both forms of her name; Luisa and P Louise Her P MC was still quincunx her south lunar node and P Venus. Both oppositions and quincunxes can signal changes, including separations. Obviously, Louise was very happy to separate from jail. The factors which change most is secondary progressions are the Quotidian angles which circle the whole chart in a year so they move around a degree a day. On the day of her sentencing, Louise had her Q MC in 10 Cancer octile her Saturn, and her local Q MC in 16 Leo square her Uranus. 11 days later, the Q MC would have moved to 21 Cancer, coming to a grand trine to Mars (freedom) and Demeter (as she was released to her parents). Her local Q MC would have moved to 27 Leo, leaving the conjunction with Saturn and sextile to Jupiter and trining her group of factors in late Sagittarius, which is also associated with freedom.
I have not heard anything more about her case in recent months, so do not know whether the authorities in Massachusetts plan to try her again. Her chart does not look “out of the woods,” since her P Sun continues in a quincunx to Saturn to the spring of 2000 and a P Juno quincunx to Saturn lasts even longer, forming a yod. But, as we have seen, some of the time, quincunxes can let us go. Woodward’s P Neptune continues to square her N Moon for years, so she will need to stay realistic in her handling of the law. Her P Ascendant moving into Capricorn is also a warning to act with caution.
Did Louise Woodward contribute to Matthew’s death? Astrology shows psychological principles, so there are bound to be strong connecting links between their charts, but guessing the details of the relationships remains a guess. Woodward’s P Moon had been progressing over Matthew’s Sun during the two plus months before his death, so her “mothering” certainly could have affected his life vitality. His N Moon was on her Saturn, connecting the “mother” and “father” principles as she was surrogate parent. Whether she was practical and responsible in her care-taking remains a question. Her Pluto-MC on his lunar node in his 10th house again repeated the parent theme, with the issues of the use of responsible power. His mother asteroid, Ceres, and his Ascendant were on her Vesta, work and health. His health could be an issue with her Uranus on his Vesta. Her Antivertex (personal action) was on his Neptune (faith at the subconscious level). One of the most challenging aspects was his Saturn on her south lunar node, pointing to a mutual lesson involving personal action. Of course, a baby is pretty lacking in personal power. Her name asteroid Luisa was on Matthew’s 8th cusp, but this could simply point to her presence when he was dying. His south node on her IC repeats the “mother” relationship. The one supposedly unambiguously positive conjunction between the charts is Matthew’s Venus on Louise’s Jupiter, but there are also some sextiles and trines.
Even with astrology and asteroids, we may never know exactly what happened, but as I wrote in the Sagittarius 1997 issue of The Mutable Dilemma, Matthew’s chart strongly indicated a crisis 3 to 5 months before his death. The aspects could have involved the brain damage that the defense claimed was medically indicated as present before Woodward was hired to care for Matthew. In one of those amazing synchronicities, on June 16, the day I was writing this article about Woodward’s chart, the highest court in Massachusetts upheld the reduced conviction and sentence ordered by Judge Zobel, freeing Louise to return to England. Matthew’s parents, who are both physicians, have filed a civil suit against Woodward, charging her with the wrongful death of their son, apparently to prevent her from profiting from the case. Louise had hoped to be exonerated, but is relieved to be free and plans to return to school in England. As a final note, the Eappens have a new baby named Kevin who is said to look like Matthew. Anyone want to bet that Matthew made a quick return?