Jeffery Dahmer: American Schemer
The serial cannibal is the bespoke symbol for the death rattle of the USA's Pluto Return
“It's a process…when you depersonalize another person and view them as just an object…It seems to make it easier to do things you shouldn't do.” —Jeffery Dahmer
DEPERSONALIZATION DROVE settlers on wild tears across the plains of 19th-century America en route to the West—gobbling up resources and slaughtering indigenous peoples who stood in the way of their consumption and claims.
The doctrine of Manifest Destiny, a crazier, god-fueled facet of the American Dream, condoned ceaseless expansion and dominion—a little bit (or a lot) of something for everyone, except those who weren’t deemed human enough to occupy what was already their birthright.
Ghoulish serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer tweaked out his own version of the American ideal, compelled by one-pointed coveting and the obsession to control, dominate and destroy his victims as a means to ‘own’ them completely. As he exclaimed, in one of his last televised interviews—and sounding like the victor in an American Idol contest—“I never dreamed it would become a reality.”
“It” was Dahmer’s fantasy of possessing beauty. In each of the interviews he granted after his arrest, he offered no other motive. And he articulated this self-assessment logically, with plain-voiced Geminian (his Sun and Mercury sign) objectivity. He deliberately chose men, he explained, with good looks and “Chippendale dancer-like” physiques. The Polaroids he kept of his deceased victims— which led to his arrest, were his way of “remembering their appearance and their physical beauty.”
In the course of ten years, seventeen beautiful ‘trophies’ were seduced, drugged, and dismembered—allowing Dahmer to have their loveliness with him always. Either peripherally (as in skull gewgaws spraypainted and placed on his desk) or internally by ingesting their flesh and organs.
Within the cult of personality-driven America, scores of shrinks and criminologists have claimed 15-minute celebrityhood by writing books, offering lectures, and running fan sites or college courses that provide analysis, conjectures, and reams of data as to Dahmer’s motives. But like so much in the world of criminology, there is—and never will be—a quintessential explanation that satisfies the notion of Dahmer’s essential raison d'être.
Astrology affords a different take. Not so much an explanation but more an impressionistic set of colors that might be blended and retraced to show us another approach to interpreting a life. A narrative that has the semblance of ‘meaning’, but always with a vein of mystery dominating the ultimate ‘cause.’
Unspooling the horoscope of an adult is akin to painting a painting backward. With natal astrology, we start to see, after the fact, how all of the lines and colors converged into a particular individual.
We can trace how Mars (red) complimented or clashed with Saturn (the black outlines and shading). And how the Sun (luminosity) brought radiance or cast shadows in the portrait. This is the closest an astrologer can come to motives. How people will act out the components that comprise their birth chart reinforces the always-present x-factor in life.
This article is a cursory view, not an in-depth analysis. It’s in place to highlight my argument that Dahmer’s reappearance into popular culture is a too-close-for-comfort reflection on the closing phase of the USA’s Pluto return. The end of a cycle that, given Pluto’s troubling position in the United State’s natal chart, is akin to the breaking of ground for a new construction site while simultaneously discovering the toxic waste upon which the planned structure will exist.
Dahmer’s birth chart displays convoluted urges for control and domination (Sun square Pluto) in the aggressive pursuit (Moon/Mars in Aries) of eroticized beauty—Venus (attraction)—his chart’s ruler—in Taurus (physical symmetry) conjunct (blended with) the fixed star Algol (decapitation) in the 8th house of death and occult forces.
This cortege of astrological factors makes for a macabre pattern of living one’s life in the celebration and pursuit of death. The exact opposite of how our species is designed to function.
As novelist Joyce Carol Oates (long enraptured with criminology) wrote in a stunning 1994 New Yorker piece:
“…such a killer is a romantic figure in reverse: sexually obsessed, isolated by his compulsions, the very portrait of demonic possession; one whose entire outward life has been constructed as a means of satisfying the forbidden.”
Saturn’s square (denial) to Mars in Aries (‘give it to me now’) shows that acquiring (Mars) what one covets (Venus) is fraught with the fear (and eventual thrill) of shattering tribal taboos. Saturn in Capricorn is the old ‘god’—the ‘vengeance is mine’ god—of the Old Testament.
Dahmer’s always rumbling volcanic pressures were conveniently acted out by his parents. The couple battled constantly within the home (Saturn in the 4th house) until their divorce.
When Dahmer finally gained his autonomy, and the freedom of his own devices, the Martian leg of the equation was granted full expression. His first murder—of a handsome hitchhiker—a longtime recurring figure of his masturbatory fantasies since his pre-teen years—was committed when he was 18.
The click that lit Dahmer’s nascent schizophrenia?
Most likely transiting Jupiter, setting off his Venus in Taurus when Dahmer was four years old. During that year, through skillful medical diagnosis (Jupiter)—related to constant ear and throat troubles (Taurus)—doctors discovered a double hernia that had descended into the young boy’s scrotum (Neptune in Scorpio—mysterious or difficult to diagnose maladies involving the genitals).
“I think there were several events in his life starting with the hernia operation,” his father said in one of a dozen interviews he granted the media in an attempt to evaluate motives. The procedure may have been necessary to cure a birth defect, but the experience was so painful that Dahmer asked his mother if the doctors had cut off his penis.
He was also hit in the back of the head as a child. (And died of a gruesome head injury—both Mars in Aries markers—while in prison). His father also associated his son’s head injury with ‘something’ beginning to go wrong.
If Dahmer’s father’s thesis is correct, and it seems to be valid, the aftereffects of his son’s hernia surgery were indeed a trauma that turned a spirited, endlessly curious Gemini boy into a sullen, shuffling loner.
Freud, who believed in sexual differences between human beings, posited that for pre-adolescent boys just beginning to consciously explore their genitals, the fear of castration loomed until object constancy, related to their body, established a foothold in the psyche.
This fear recedes, so we’re told, in the latency period around the age of seven. Prior to that, the young boy is burdened with anxieties about his genitals. Why do I have one and girls don’t? Was the girl’s penis severed?
A cross-wiring in this developmental phase might explain how Dahmer’s world, psycho-biologically, went topsy turvy: “I have a damaged or phantom penis and will transubstantiate one for myself by ingesting the organs of boy/men who are ‘whole.’”
Dahmer’s surgery, with the transit of Jupiter (spiritual initiation) in the 8th house (death and afterlife), might have launched an obsession with the Dionysian arts of dismemberment, ingestion, and splanchnophilia (the erotic arousal at the sight of the glistening surface of organs). As an adolescent Dahmer was already dissecting roadkill and applying acid compounds supplied to him by his chemist father, to melt the flesh off of the carrion. His aim was to possess the bones. The sound of dried bones clacking together in his hand, he once explained, reminded him of ‘fiddle sticks.’
There are more salient markers to consider with his natal horoscope, but I want to bring attention to the timing of the titular Netflix series that debuted this month. Considered astrologically, the elaborate production’s appearance is beyond coincidental.
Director-writer Ryan Murphy commenced work on the 10-part series as transiting Pluto touched off the nadir (the burial ground) in Dahmer’s natal horoscope. A symbolic resurrection of the bones, with transiting Jupiter (mass publication/broadcast) setting off Dahmer’s natal Saturn—the most pronounced symbol of one’s ‘fate’ in a birth chart.
Dahmer’s natal Saturn in Capricorn aligns closely with the USA’s natal Pluto. Any exchange between Saturn and another planet will literalize, or materialize the planet onto the theater of reality’s stage set—for all the world to see. Thus the return of Dahmer’s story into our communal narrative.
As of this month, Dahmer’s handsome, dead-eyed specter is dominating pop culture’s airwaves—twirling the news cycles with old video footage and setting off social media meltdowns.
The Netflix series has yanked his story out of the True Crime cluttered closet—a genre of entertainment Americans can’t get enough of—while blowing up the streaming network’s servers. Every soul in the country seems to be struggling their way through the series—not wanting to watch it, but watching the production nonetheless. A show that oddly humanizes Dahmer, while never justifying his actions.
The same transits mentioned above also trigger the United States’ natal Mercury-Pluto opposition. An aspect that entangles mass communication (Mercury) with Dionysian horrors (Pluto). This particular opposition sits directly on Dahmer’s horoscope’s north/south axis. With the US’s Mercury positioned like a broadcasting tower on Dahmer’s 23-degree Cancer midheaven.
Dahmer’s dream (midheaven) is disseminated (Mercury) once again throughout the collective imagination of the country. His ideals, by astrological implication at least, show us something revolting about our country’s unapologetic manner of expressing (Mercury) our mania for power and domination (Pluto).
In researching this article I went missing down the YouTube rabbit hole and studied dozens of videos about the Dahmer crimes, case—and hours of talking head commentaries. What waylaid me was the element of humor that burbled up continually, uncontrollably, from shrinks, doctors, detectives, cops—anyone who had an opinion to express about the horrors.
I wondered about this for a spell and then stopped to consider Dahmer’s zero-degree Gemini Sun poised as it is in his chart, between the 8th house of death and the 9th house of ‘god’ and religion. Gemini, the quintessential communicator, transmitter, and weaver of opposites—linking and bonding two of the horoscope’s most mysterious domains. The click in my head was palpable.
Other than considering the puns and the jokes as a form of whistling past the graveyard, I see how our culture’s obsession with Dahmer has everything to do—of course—with the oldest taboos on the planet: sex and death. Humor, with its peculiar ability to combine opposites to release laughter, seems an understandable reaction to the imponderable. Meaning Dahmer’s macabre ability to dance effortlessly between—and within—sex and death. And in such a literal way. Things haven’t been that crazy since Christ said to his disciples, “This bread and wine are my flesh and blood: eat up.”
What mysteries did Dahmer collide with in his madness? What visions of the afterlife or otherworldly did he unwittingly channel? This is why we can’t get enough of the most famous serial killer—and possessor of primordial talismanic secrets—in history.
When a friend of mine’s mother, back in 1991, saw the newscast photos of Dahmer’s mugshot she declared, emphatically to the TV, “Oh no, no, no. This is a mistake. That is the face of an angel.”
Joyce Carol Oates again:
“What an enigma, the “serial killer” he who murders not for monetary gain, which we might understand, but for passion’s capricious sake! This is the stuff of poetry, even if bad poetry; of art, even if repellent art. The serial killer is not simply a savage beast but an anomaly in nature itself, for if, in Darwinian terms, nature is compulsively concerned with the propagation of the very best genes of a species, it is impossible to read the serial killer as “natural” in any way…So a serial killer like Jeffrey Dahmer remains a riddle, a koan, not simply in human terms but in biological terms as well. We understand him, finally, no better than we understand ourselves.”