Two Deadly Mothers
Lois Rodden’s August 1999 Data News has a lot of dramatic data. Two young women born on the same day but unknown to each other conceived babies, kept their pregnancies secret until the babies were born, and then killed them or left them to die. We have only the birth date of Melissa Drexler, but we have full B.C. data for Amy Grossberg, who was born in Hackensack, NJ at 13:43 EDT, and, like Melissa, on July 10, 1978. Amy’s boyfriend, who helped her maintain the secret and was present at the delivery and disposal of the newborn, was Brian Peterson Jr., born on June 10, 1978 in Long Island, NY. Amy went into labor on November 12, 1996, and she and Brian drove to a motel in Newark DE where the baby boy was born between 4:30 and 4:40 A.M., presumably on November 13. Amy and Brian put him in a plastic bag in a dumpster. When found, he was diagnosed as a live, healthy infant who had died from multiple skull fractures and from having been shaken. On July 9, 1999, Amy was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison, and Brian was sentenced to 2 years in prison.
An initial glance at Amy’s chart shows a tight Venus-Saturn conjunction in Leo (the sign of procreation) in the natural house of Saturn with an exact octile to Pluto. Saturn and its house and sign symbolize the Law, those who enforce it, one’s conscience, and the consequences of how we have handled the laws of nature and society. Venus symbolizes our pleasure. Since it rules Amy’s rising sign of Libra, it is a key to her “identity in action,” her natural self-expression from the beginning of life. Pluto is also a key to her natural self-expression since it rules the part of Scorpio which is in her first house. Placing a first house ruler in the 10th house as well as conjunct Saturn shows an identification with the Law. The expression of this combination may range from “my will is law, and I have the right and power to do what I want,” to “the world has all the power and I might as well give up and not try.” Obviously, we need to compromise, using some personal power but recognizing that it has limits and consequences.
Two keys to identity in a conflict aspect to each other (Venus octile Pluto) shows an inner conflict; “self-against self.” Amy was clearly in conflict with herself as well as with the law, and she was also in conflict with motherhood. Ceres, an asteroid which signifies our ability to mother and/or be mothered, was in the sign of Saturn square Pluto, trioctile Venus and Saturn, and opposite Amy’s Sun-Jupiter conjunction in Cancer. Leo signifies the ability and inclination to procreate children, and the Moon and its sign and house show our capacity to take care of them after we get them. We see a repeated theme with Mars (identity) conjunct the Moon (the ability to nurture) square Neptune (subconscious faith and the ethics which are determined by one’s beliefs). Mars wants personal freedom while the Moon wants to nurture or be nurtured. To repeat the theme of a major lesson connected to the law, nurturing, and personal will in action, the midpoint of Saturn/south lunar node in 14 Gemini was square Mars within one degree. Saturn/north lunar node, using the “true” instead of the “mean” node, was exactly octile Saturn and Venus.
So Amy, with her Mars-Moon showing her identification with mothering, with their trine to Ceres repeating the potential for having a family, and her Sun conjunct Jupiter in Cancer saying it again in spades, was able to conceive children but deeply ambivalent about caring for them. The lunar nodes repeat the message, with the mean south node in Aries, a lesson in the freedom to do what we want, while the true north node in 29 Virgo calls for coping effectively with the physical world. The nodes across the cusps of two sets of houses connect the principles of Leo-Aquarius (love and children versus freedom and rebellion against limits) and Virgo-Pisces (practicality versus ideals). To add a dramatic note to the lessons, Amy’s Part of Death in 28 Gemini squared the true nodes.
Amy could have given the baby for adoption instead of taking its life, but her need for personal freedom and her capacity for a ruthless personal will were supported by her rising Uranus in Scorpio exactly square Mercury in the house of Saturn, her Antivertex closely square Venus and Saturn, and her East Point widely square the MC, an equivalent to Saturn. These auxiliary Ascendants added to Uranus in Scorpio show the enduring will which can literally keep going to the end, even to death. The keys to identity square the keys to the law keep repeating the message of self-will versus the limits of self-will. If we take Juno as a co-ruler of Scorpio, the East Point’s square to the midpoint of N and P Juno and their location in the 4th house is another indication of Amy’s ambivalence over personal freedom versus emotional closeness. The 4th house normally wants a family while Aquarius wants detachment. The first house wants independence while Scorpio and Juno want a mate. Amy’s boyfriend stayed with her through the disposal of the baby and is now sharing the consequences: time in jail.
Turning to some of the extra asteroids, Siva, Hindu god of destruction in 11 Libra, was octile Amy’s Antivertex. Her P south node of Mars was conjunct Siva. Demeter, the Greek name of Ceres, was in 6 Scorpio, with the P Sun square it. N Nemesis and P Medea (who killed her children) squared the East Point from early Leo. P Nemesis in 9 Leo squared a triple conjunction of Chiron, Karma, and Persephone, the daughter of Ceres. I interpret Chiron as another Jupiter, with the potential for the Sagittarius associations with law courts, which seek truth and ethics based on beliefs and values. Amy’s P Ascendant had reached an opposition to Chiron. Themis, divine justice, opposed Pluto and P Themis squared Ceres, which had retrograded to square Siva and P south node of Mars and to quincunx Mercury, while P MC was quincunx N Ceres. Character creates fate/destiny. Though the doomed baby was a boy, the asteroids for the daughters of the mother goddesses were relevant. As mentioned above, Persephone was on Karma and Chiron, while the daughter of Demeter, Proserpina, was in 13 Virgo on the midpoint of Saturn/north lunar node.
Other keys to the mother principle would include Chandra, the Hindu name for the Moon. Atlantis, often a key to the abuse of power, and Hybris (hubris or over-confidence) formed a grand trine to Chandra in 29 Cancer. Trines show inner harmony, which can manifest as over-confidence. Amy’s P Sun was conjunct P Chandra throughout her pregnancy, and had just ended the aspect when she rejected motherhood, when the baby was born and killed. P Chandra was octile P Venus and P Sun was octile P Proserpina, which was just past P Venus. P Mars had reached the octile to N Mercury, and P Mercury was octile P Siva. P Hybris was on the south lunar node, and P Saturn holds a quincunx to them for years. There is always more, but we will end with the death goddesses. Hela in 26 Aries and Libitina in 26 Gemini were both quincunx the Antivertex to form a yod, and P Mars had moved in to form a second yod which included the Antivertex and Hela. P Hela opposed Demeter and formed a T-square with the P Sun. P Venus opposed both N and P Atropos. Hel was quincunx Juno from 4 Virgo, and P Libitina in 4 Cancer completed a yod. P Hel was on Proserpina and Saturn/north node as well as square the N north node of Mars in Gemini. The double quincunx or yod is the aspect configuration that most strongly points to separations in the life. Amy lived out a dark fate. One hopes she can change her character and achieve a happier life.
The birth time for Amy’s baby is only known within 10 minutes, so the angles have a potential range of about 2 ½ degrees, and we will spend less time on the chart. The date was presumably November 13, 1996, and I have calculated the chart for 4:35 A.M. as the middle of the suggested time range. Though the chart angles are not precise to the degree, they really fit the situation. Either Neptune or Uranus or their midpoint is on the IC for a sudden, accidental end of life (Uranus) that the parents had hoped to keep hidden (Neptune), Chiron is rising for the legal and ethical issues raised by the baby’s fate, and Neptune squares the Ascendant. An addition of a few minutes to the birth time would put the Part of death square Ceres, the “mothering” asteroid, and possibly conjunct Saturn. Ceres is also quincunx the MC, which is normally a key to father.
I will just mention a few appropriate asteroids. Medea, who killed her children, was conjunct the baby’s Sun and quincunx Ate in Aries, a goddess considered almost totally evil by the Greeks. Lacrimosa, tears and sorrow, was on Uranus. An overlapping trio of asteroids was on Pluto: Justitia (human justice), Libitina (death), and Siva (destruction). Nemesis squared them from 3 Virgo. The Moon, the main key to one’s mother, formed a grand cross in mutable signs which included Tyr, the Norse god of war, in Virgo along with Lilith, who had a reputation as a baby killer in some myths. Guernica, associated with war against innocent victims, squared the Moon from Pisces, while Hephaistos, maker of weapons, opposed it. Medusa, noted for turning witnesses to stone, was conjunct the Moon. Amy and her baby were certainly in a state of war. Obviously, the traditional planets also had conflict aspects, with Venus octile Pluto and Mars widely square it. Juno (like Pluto, a potential for endings), was on the south lunar node (a lesson involving relationships), trioctile the Sun (creativity, including procreation).
Turning to the other doomed baby, Melissa Drexler’s son was born on June 6, 1997 at 19:45 EDT in Aberdeen, NJ. The data was given in the June 23, 1997 issue of Newsweek. Mars was precisely on the MC, along with the north lunar node, putting the true south node on the IC. Medea was exactly square Mars and the nodes. Mars always symbolizes our own power to do what we want, while the MC, like Saturn, symbolizes the limits of our power. In this case, clearly the power was in the world, in the form of the baby’s mother. The Moon, as a key to mother, was in a tight conjunction with Juno, the midpoint of Saturn/north lunar node, the north node of Vesta, and the north node of Jupiter. They squared Saturn/south node and were quincunx a Pallas-Siva conjunction in Aquarius and trioctile a Jupiter-Libitina conjunction that was also in Aquarius. The freedom-closeness conflict between Cancer and Aquarius provides an obvious theme in the chart. Demeter, a “mother” asteroid, was trioctile Vesta from 27 Scorpio, and Chandra, another “mother” symbol, was quincunx the Sun from 16 Capricorn. Hela’s sextile to the Sun from 16 Leo completed a yod. Ceres squared the Part of Death in 11 Sagittarius, and was trioctile Chiron. As previously indicated, Jupiter, Chiron, and Sagittarius can signify the search for truth, including lawyers and law courts, and the ethics determined by our beliefs and values.
Other aspects included Pluto opposite Fama, and the event was definitely in the news. Mercury was quincunx the East Point, Medea was quincunx Hel, and Atropos was quincunx Mars and the MC. The quincunx is typically a key to separations, which can include death. Tyr, the Norse war god, squared the Sun. I limit the aspects to new asteroids to one-degree orbs, but of course we can allow wider orbs for the traditional planets to each other. Pluto was just over a one-degree trioctile to Saturn, and Uranus just over quincunxes to the cluster in 6 Cancer, which included the Moon. You have to wonder what would draw a baby to such an immediate and drastic end, but the potential for a sudden and violent separation from his mother and his physical life is clearly pictured in his horoscope.