Benjamin Smith, Racist
The December 1999 issue of Lois Rodden’s Data News has the birth data for Benjamin Nathaniel Smith, who murdered a black man on July 2, 1999, an Asian man on July 4, 1999, and then took his own life later that night after a police chase which ended when his stolen van went into a ditch. In addition to the two deaths, nine blacks, Asians, and Jews were wounded during Smith’s three-day rampage through part of Illinois and Indiana. Smith’s data came from his birth certificate according to Todd Lighty, a reporter with the Chicago Tribune. Romy Ransome got it from Lighty, double checked it, and passed it on to Lois. Smith was born on March 22, 1978 at 15:09 CST in Chicago, IL.
Smith was the oldest of three kids of a doctor father and a real estate broker mother, but we lack information on why he rejected his bourgeois background. It apparently happened early, since he wrote that “my racial awakening began in the eighth grade.” He had few friends, though in October 1997 while in college he formed an organization called “Odin Saves Ministry”. He had a minor arrest record for petty crimes and carried a false driver’s license with the name of Erwin Rommel, Hitler’s field marshal. A former girlfriend left him when he spouted racism and abused her. He joined the World Church of the Creator, an Illinois-based white supremacist church described as one of the fastest growing hate groups in the world in 1999. After joining the church in June 1998, Smith single-handedly distributed 15,000 copies of the church manifesto. He bought two guns from a dealer on June 26 and June 29, 1999, and three days later started his brief murderous spree.
In any form of violence that involves guns, I look first for Winchester, which was named for the city in Massachusetts where the Winchester rifle was invented. The asteroid was in 1 Aquarius on the midpoint of Vesta in 16 Sagittarius and Themis (divine justice) in 16 Pisces, with octiles to both. It was also sextile Smith’s Sun in Aries, and P Mars had just reached an opposition to it before the deadly weekend. Connected by overlapping orbs were P Chicago, Smith’s birthplace, and P Phaethon (overreach), which squared it from 0 to 1 degree of Taurus, and P Jupiter, which was quincunx from 0 Cancer. P Winchester in 7 Aquarius was on N Hela, a death goddess, and octile Dido, named for someone who committed suicide, in 22 Sagittarius. P Hel, another asteroid named for the same death goddess as Hela, was in 8 Leo, just over a one-degree opposition to P Winchester.
The death goddess Libitina was in 12 Taurus conjunct P Venus, square Recha in 12 Aquarius and quincunx Atlantis in 12 Sagittarius. I am testing Recha as a possible key to tolerance or a lack of it, and Atlantis is often associated with the abuse of power. P Nemesis, who “got” you if you flouted the divine law of Themis, was in 27 Gemini, conjunct N Jupiter. octile Libitina and trioctile Recha, and its conjunction with the P Moon pulled that into the network of aspects. Ate, a goddess of evil, in 28 Sagittarius, was opposite P Nemesis and Jupiter, and square P Icarus in 28 Pisces. P Icarus was also in orb for an octile to Libitina, and its conjunction with P Karma in 29 Pisces connected it to the network of aspects. P Icarus was also quincunx the N Ascendant and square 3 asteroids in 28 Gemini: Justitia (justice), Epimetheus (who looked to the past), and Benjamina, the asteroid for Smith’s first name. The massive network of conflict was incredible.
The asteroid for Smith’s last name was in 4 Libra and the P north lunar node had retrograded to conjunct it, which of course put the south node in opposition. P Chiron, carrying a Jupiter meaning which was reinforced by its position in the 9th house, was quincunx Smith. Letter nine signifies beliefs and the ethics and morals based on them. P Smith in 0 Libra squared P Jupiter to repeat the message of problems with beliefs. P Smith had just ended a long opposition to the N Sun, but it was still in orb to square P Ate in 1 Capricorn, to be octile Uranus. P Uranus had retrograded to conjunct Erigone, named for two mythical women who committed suicide. To drive home the message again, the P Part of Death for Bloomington, IN, where the first victim was killed, was in 0 Cancer on P Jupiter. P Justitia was just past them, in 2 Cancer conjunct P Benjamina, with P Justitia still within one degree of a square to N Sun. For whatever reason, Smith was personally obsessed with violence and death.
Astrology should be able to provide insights into the basic psychological conflicts which tormented Smith. With his Ascendant conjunct Saturn and his Moon in his first house, both of his parents were role models for his sense of personal identity. Role models can be positive or negative; that is, we may want to be like them or the opposite. Mars in Cancer repeats the message of mother as a role model, while the Moon in Virgo and Ceres in Capricorn fit the working mother. A sibling could also have been a role model with Venus ruling the 3rd house and placed in Aries. Venus also ruled Smith’s 10th house, repeating the idea that a parent was a role model, but I’m not sure which house is which parent. Both are connected to idealism with Saturn in the 12th house, Mercury as a ruler of the 10th house Gemini being placed in the 9th house, and Neptune and Sagittarius in the 4th house. Idealism is always a two-edged sword, too often a key to disappointment that people and life in general are not living up to our expectations.
Smith had many trines in fire signs but mostly water houses. Individuals with strong fire tend to feel that they know what they want and they have a right to it. In potential conflict with the fire, water is looking for security and tends to be inhibited, holding in the feeling. The fire-water combination can be explosive, with the water holding back the fire until enough pressure builds up to explode. The explosion may turn in against the self and produce illness, or it may act violently against the world. Both of the primary lesson factors, the south lunar node and Saturn, are in fire signs and water houses. I suspect that in Smith’s case, the 10th house represents his father, with its rulers in Aries and Venus in the 8th house, equivalent to Scorpio. His father may have had the intense emotions of a fire-water mixture, but kept it focused positively in his medical career, while his mother directed her strong earth into business. Friends were also role models for Smith, with Mars in the 11th house and close to the Antivertex, an auxiliary Ascendant. They were also highly valued, with Jupiter in the 11th house and Mercury ruling it and placed in the 9th house. As with his parents, the association with idealism can lead to disappointment and disillusionment. One possible outcome is an attraction to other alienated individuals and a search for scapegoats one can blame for one’s unhappiness.
The major lesson factors were strongly aspected in Smith’s progressions when he went on his killing spree. His P south lunar node had remained conjunct his N Tyr, the Norse Mars, and opposed to N Smith all of his life. P Atropos, another death goddess, had moved to 21 Aquarius to be octile/trioctile the nodes. His P Antivertex reached a conjunction with P Saturn a few months before he exploded into violence, and it opposed P Hela. Smith’s MC in Indiana, where the first murder was committed, was enough higher than his MC in Chicago to put P Saturn square it. His Saturn/nodes midpoints were in 15 Gemini and Virgo, putting his P Ascendant conjunct one and square the other. As readers know, I consider these midpoints to be major keys to primary lessons. His P local MC was conjunct his P Saturn/P south lunar node.
Smith’s first murder victim was a black man. P Neptune held a lifetime square to the asteroid Africa in 17 Virgo, while P Africa in 14 Virgo opposed Hestia, the Greek Vesta, and it had reached a square to Smith’s P local MC in 14 Gemini, and it completed a grand cross with Mason-Dixon in 14 Sagittarius. P Mason-Dixon and P Atlantis were both in 15 Sagittarius in a T-square to the Saturn/node midpoints and connected to Africa and Hestia with overlapping orbs. The asteroid Mason-Dixon was named for a U.S. law marking a boundary between the states where slavery would not be permitted in the future, and the southern states where the economy depended on the slavery of blacks who were captured and brought to the U.S. from Africa. Toro is another asteroid associated with intolerance, and Smith’s N IC was conjunct it, while P Toro had retrograded to conjunct Uranus and Erigone.
Orientals were also targets of Smith’s anger, and his 2nd victim was a Korean. P Jupiter and his P Part of Death from his birthplace opposed his N Asia, while P Asia squared his lunar nodes and opposed Fanatica (extremism). Guernica (death of innocent victims) and Fama were in 6 to 7 Capricorn on P Asia. P Fanatica in 11 Cancer was quincunx Recha and square the P 8th cusp in the town of his first murder victim, and trioctile Hybris (hubris) in 26 Aquarius. Smith also shot at Jews, though none were killed. Israel was on his Descendant while P Israel in 12 Pisces squared his P MC and was octile Juno, equivalent to Pluto.
There is always more that could be noted, but we will end with Smith’s P East Point conjunct his N Moon and opposite his N Parts of Death for his birthplace and Bloomington, IN. His Part of Death in Salem, IL, where he finally shot himself three times after being cornered by the police, was in 5 Pisces, quincunx his north node and N Smith and octile Mercury. His P Part of Death in Salem was on his P Moon. One wonders what, if anything, was learned by someone who was said to be intelligent, but who lived such a short and seemingly futile life.