The Stars of Poet Francis Thompson: Ripper suspect
Alert! The following post is not for minors–please use caution. Here I will lay out my reasoning for why I believe poet Francis Thompson may be considered a legitimate suspect in the Jack the Ripper cases of Autumn 1888. Disagree as you wish!
In London England, in and nearby the Whitechapel district, Autumn 1888 was a season of brutal murders of ladies of the evening who lived in the area. One suspect has belatedly emerged from a long list of them and his name is Francis Thompson, a published poet. His most famous poem, The Hound of Heaven, blends his skill with words with the religious fervor of a wanna-be Catholic priest (he studied but did not practice.)
Yet thanks to modern forensics, we must note that one of the three primary suspects in 1888, Aaron Kosminski, has been identified as the murderer through DNA on a victim’s shawl. Kosminski was born on September 11, 1865 in Klodawa, Poland for those who’d like to have a look at his untimed natal horoscope. Said to have been a misogynist, auditory hallucinations were one of his psychotic problems, along with personal hygiene.
Actually at Wikipedia you can check out a long list of Ripper suspects though if Francis Thompson is among them I have yet to discover his name! Be that as it may, Thompson is the subject of today’s post and Poem Hunter provides Thompson’s biography and his poems as well if you wish to read them. As an astrologer I’d have to say my favorite is An Arab Love Song because of its cosmic imagery though I am not a fan of his morbid references in other poems.
So! What can we say about Francis Thompson as a suspect in the unsolved ‘Jack the Ripper’ cases? Can Astrology describe violent characteristics? The unsolved murders terrorized London from August 31, 1888 (first body found at 3:40 am GMT–Mary Ann Nichols who was last seen alive at 3:30 am) to the last murder of Mary Jane Kelly found “shortly after 10:45 am” on November 9, 1888 when her landlord’s assistant knocked on her door to collect her in-arrears rent? Obviously, there were other murders attributed to ‘the ripper’ at the time but but were discounted for one reason or another. The ‘canonical five’ (August 31–Nov 9, 1888) are considered to be his victims for certain though all together there were eleven murders from 1888 to 1891.
And yes, I have all five of the ‘body found’ horoscopes in my files (see Wikipedia link, below) along with a few charts set for ‘times of death’ as near as could be determined by the police. I also have a few of the victims’ natal charts (untimed so they’re set for their murder or ‘found’ hours) but today let’s focus on the natal horoscope of poet Francis Thompson to see if there are indications of relationship obsessions, complexes, and/or violent or psychotic tendencies in his character.
Dreamy Moon-Neptune: a Fantasy of the Ideal Woman
Without Thompson’s precise birth hour, I’ve experimented with speculative charts such as the moment that his Virgo Moon (in the sign of The Virgin for the 24-hour period of his birthdate) and natal Neptune–strong, fanatic, and perhaps paranoid in its own murky sign of Pisces–exactly oppose one another across the victim-savior axis of Virgo-Pisces. Naturally, Moon-Neptune denotes one for whom alcohol and other drugs (he used opiates) are very debilitating to the health and he spent years of Moon-Neptune homelessness on the streets before conditions improved for him (a lady took him in, fed him, etc.) At last, the publishing of his poetry must have been a godsend. ….
The exact lunar timing (9:10:30 am GMT Dec 16, 1859 Preston, Lancashire, England) is here used to set up a symbolic natal horoscope especially when we consider that a Moon-Neptune opposition (whether exact or merely within orb) is an aspect of potentials such as creativity, imagination (poetry), projecting feelings onto others, irrational emotions, and psychic ability and interests. The fact that Moon and Neptune square his Sun (ego; adult personality) confused things with Sun-square-Neptune denoting mysticism and possibly a sense of being a “chosen vessel” (positively or in murder cases, negatively.) Some sources report that Thompson had occult interests and talents which may be true–1888 was still strongly under the influence of the 1881/82 Neptune-Pluto-conjunctions (7–9Gem) with its drugs, underworld crime, and occult-supernatural vibes. If so, this might add devilish motivations to an ‘evil murderer’ profile if indeed he has one. Freemasonry involvement is sometimes mentioned as well though I have no knowledge of such at this time.
So, as noted, for much of the day of his birth, the Moon-Neptune opposition squared natal Sun (a Mutable T-Square) which denotes delicacy in romantic relationships and much insight into other people (which supports his psychic abilities); self-delusion and delusions about others were prominent tendencies in his personality and must have helped derail his professional tracks such as the priesthood and medicine but would have expressed more positively via his poetry writing where fantasy could take more acceptable wings–even if some of them were dark. The Mutable T-Square, if his, lends restlessness, lack of commitment to others, a vacillating nature, and a seeking of stimulation since boredom is typically prominent.
Taurus-Scorpio and a Mars-Pluto Opposition
Another addition to such a profile is his strong Mars-Pluto opposition across the Taurus-Scorpio axis which identifies a brutal childhood, probably via the father (though he was a doctor, a surgeon, I suppose; Thompson is known to have had a difficult childhood.) A Moon-Neptune opposition chart has Saturn Rx @25Leo59 rising, a signature of hardship in childhood; ASC 27Leo33 brings up royal star Regulus, keywords: success if revenge is avoided; the Sun @24Sag26 is chart-ruler with only one applying aspect–a trine to Saturn which demands sincerity in relationships and bestows an ability to time things well (ex: silently escaping under cover of darkness after committing a crime).
Pluto Rx in Venus-Ruled Taurus
As you know, Taurus is the sign of the throat and the 5 ‘canonical’ murders attributed to Jack the Ripper were committed by slashing throats with horrible mutilation occurring after death. And the thing about a Mars-Pluto opposition is that if its difficult energies aren’t channeled in positive ways (such as studying for 6 years to be a surgeon) it will attract violence, or, the opposition can be a signature for committing violent acts of brutality. Of course, Mars rules knives and stealthy, creepy Pluto can act as the assassin, the saboteur, the rapist, and rules death and the Underworld (Hades). Plus, in Taurus, Pluto often tends toward intolerance which turns up elsewhere in Thompson’s natal chart.
Another factor that turns up in relation to our investigation is asteroid Lilith, an archetype that carries a lot of emotional and psychological baggage as the glamorous woman and seducer. Often considered by men to be a prostitute (whether she is or not), Lilith may in this case be found walking the streets with perhaps evil intent (abortion may be her object when necessary.)
We might expect that any loose morals of Lilith would be judged negatively by one such as Mr. Thompson who studied but failed to enter the priesthood with its Catholic issue of the ‘Madonna-Wh*re’ paradox while idolizing The Virgin Mary (Thompson’s natal Moon in Virgo describes his ‘reigning need’ as a virtuous woman–confused with loose Lilith! Venus in Capricorn can denote repressed sexuality, emotional coldness, and a feeling of superiority over ‘common’ women such as prostitutes. His natal Venus is not linked to other planets by aspect and so must express herself as-is. )
And yet for Lilith to apply here we must look for her to have a prominent position or emphasis in Thompson’s natal horoscope and there it is: Lilith conjunct natal Venus @14Capricorn, ruled by stern Saturn! As noted, Venus makes no other aspects in the chart which spotlights her conjunction (fusion) with Lilith so that Thompson’s Venus (anima) is Lilith. And perhaps all the ladies he’d known in his life beginning with mother were one and the same to him for wounded healer and blindspot Chiron in Aquarius indicates one for whom the past and the future are the same–a “time traveler” in fact (Nolle) and a dynamic eccentric for whom change is the only constant. Chiron @18Aquarius conjoins his stationary North Node of the Moon (encounters; destiny) in an implication against mother as one of the parents who wounded him in childhood–wounds he never outgrew or put behind him for the past is always with him.
Jupiter Trine Neptune: Mystery, Ceremony, Ritual
How did Francis Thompson relate to other people? We find this info via the sign of natal Jupiter (Rx) in Moon–ruled Cancer where Jupiter is exalted. A comfortable home materially is indicated, plus, morals and religious principles were instilled in him during childhood but we might expect these to have been overemphasized or perverted into dogmatic judgementalism. Good aspects to Jupiter can mitigate and only a separating (unconscious) trine from Neptune is there. Actually, Jupiter-trine-Neptune can see ‘good’ where others see evil which may have supported his obsession. The trine may even have given him the idea that he was correcting decay in the environment and creating order out of chaos as a “chosen vessel” from on-high by removing certain down-and-out members of society–if he committed the murders, that is.
For eccentric Francis Thompson we shall take a look at quirky Uranus in the Mercury-ruled sign of Gemini (4:56 Rx), sign of the dark and light twins (stars Castor and Pollux)–and of the creative writer; duplicity is also a possibility wherever Gemini appears. Well, it turns out that Uranus ‘runs away’ with his chart for it is unaspected and therefore unfettered by the rest of his natal planets.
Uranus is an unpredictable catalyst on its own, an isolationist or even a genius, and an unaspected Uranus appears intense and laser-focused as it operates in an unconscious manner and/or in spurts of activity. With this Uranus he may have felt “plugged into cosmic power”, self-contained, and outside of all social influences and he must have considered himself unique and unmatched (Tierney) as Ripper letters taunting the police show (if ’twas Thompson, of course; some of the letters may have been of a ‘copycat’ nature.)
Creepy Pluto Calls Again as Neptune Slinks About
Now in Thompson’s natal chart–and not dependent on an exact birth hour–there is a power-infused midpoint picture to add to our consideration of the Poet as Ripper suspect. All, any, or none of the potentials that formed at his birth may never have been triggered though the combined energies are subject to activation via transits and progressions–and still are! And it may be significant that the picture remained in effect in Thompson’s progressions for 1888 and includes assassin planet, the sexy, the creepy, the invisible…Pluto of Hades:
Pluto-NN = Neptune: deception as a tool; the power of the half-truth; win at any cost (Tyl); attaining success by way of lies and fraud; disadvantages and losses (Ebertin); seeing that people are not always what they seem to be (Munkasey.)
Plus, there is another descriptive midpoint picture in force but not dependent on a birth hour:
Venus-Uranus = Neptune: seduction; a peculiar disposition in sex expression; sensitivity; a peculiar love relationship; the necessity to renounce love suddenly (Ebertin); off-the-norm sexual fantasies; relationship problems not easily defined (Tyl)–how about weird? And of course, we’ve seen natal Venus under stress–isolated in her out-of-bounds condition, in Saturn-ruled Capricorn, and conjunct harlot Lilith. Enalrge the chart image to see Vertex (fated encounters–if the chart’s timing is at all correct–Jupiter Rx conjunct Anti-Vertex so he may have ‘seen himself’ as Jupiter exalted in Cancer, sign of the mother and the womb with Vertex (VX) conjunct death-dealer Hades, usher to the doors of hell, plus, Black Moon Lilith as well @26Cap20. Ouch! Could satanism have been far away? Especially with task master Saturn in Leo rising with (or simply conjunct) asteroid Nemesis, bringer of divine retribution.
In addition, Venus appears in the ‘stars’ list below.
Perhaps Thompson’s Saturn-Neptune inconjunct is important considering the degrading conditions of his environment. Their inconjunct
Now a Word about His Solar Eclipse
Francis Thompson was born under the influence of the 5 New South Saros Series with its themes of peak experiences and joyous events (Brady) and we may be tempted to think of flowers and butterflies until we consider that asteroid Bacchus (religious or drug-infused delirium parallels his natal Sun in Sagittarius–and the fact that 5 New South, which last manifested in November 2003, is also the Pre-Natal Eclipse Series of the Jonestown Massacre. ‘Nuff said.
The Stars of Francis Thompson
Another chart factor that does not depend n a correct birth time is how his natal planets may be linked to fixed stars which tend to express on a larger scale with outer planets if at all. Perhaps we’ll find something descriptive here relating to Thompson’s possible inclusion on the Ripper suspects list:
1. Sun @24Sag rises with Scheat (Beta Pegasus), a malevolent star too faint to herald the dawn but related to our topic nonetheless. Scheat denotes such potentials as: murder, suicide (he tried at one point but failed), turbulence, extreme misfortune, drowning (Brady), and “malevolence of sublime scope” (A. Louis.)
2. Sun conjunct Aculeus (Scorpius), a nebula with its companion, Acumen. Both stars relate to blindness and to attacks but may also relate to occultism via inner vision and deep intuition; similar to Castor and Pollux, Aculeus and Acumen are associated with the light vs dark phenomena and when linked to a natal planet, either star can impact one’s sense of being (Brady.)
3. Venus @14Cap conjunct Vega (Alpha Lyra) bestows charisma and a magical or numinous quality. Given the AC-DC tendency of Astrology and the principle of attraction via Venus, I suspect his Venus-Lilith combo describes his fascination with ladies of the evening. If Thompson acted out his fantasies by becoming a murderer, we may expect his religious and sexual complexes along with surgical experience to have paved the way for whatever dark activities he may have engaged in, Ripper or not. Is Astrology describing a social crusader of sorts? What do you think so far?
4. Venus also conjoins star Rukbat (Alpha Sagittarius) = steadiness of an archer’s stance. And what does an archer intend? To pierce his target. Such steadiness can turn to stubbornness depending on how the star’s energies are used; physical and moral strength are also concepts of Rukbat. Perhaps he demanded more strength of a moral kind from his Venusian targets than they were able or inclined to give and thus his arrow flew.
5. Jupiter @23Cancer conjunct Procyon (Alpha Canis Minor), its concepts expanded by Jupiter’s presence. Procyon’s usual key phrase is short-lived opportunities but there’s more: violent actions, general misfortune, disasters, a hot temper, jealousy, pig-headedness, gains that do not last, a fall from grace after a quick rise to fame (Brady.) Procyon herlads the rising of the Egyptian goddess star and Venus-Isis stand-in, Sirius which is associated with ancient religions and with Freemasonry.
6. Pluto conjunct Schedir or Schedar (Alpha Cassiopeia), ‘the Queen’ denoting female sovereignty. With Pluto conjoining we find some dark and deep message here about commanding respect (harlots don’t get or give much, do they?) blended with concepts of mysticism and loss of dignity. The very basic concepts of maternalism and feminine intuition vs male logic and strong paternalism are at stake here along with demonic power made more evil by the presence of creepy Pluto. It was the the weak vs the strong–but ‘the strong’ had the element of surprise in his quiver, and a knife in his pocket.
Miscellaneous notes: when the first victim, Mary Ann Nichols, was found (August 31, 1888 at 3:40 am GMT with 21Leo12 rising with Thompson’s natal Saturn Rx), transit Mercury was stationary @1Sco55 and conjunct Midheaven (MC, the most visible point in a horoscope and The Goal–she became visible) which conjoined his natal Mars, the slasher, @2Scorpio. Mercury to his Mars denotes putting ideas into physical action–and surgical procedures. Asteroid Pandora of social ills fame was also @2Scoprio; Sun @17Scorpio spotlighted fixed star Zuben Elschemali (negative social reform for gaining personal power.)
As for planets we expect to see at the angles of a death horoscope, Mary Ann Nichols (‘Polly’) was found with her natal Saturn opposed by transiting Saturn–both angular across the ASC-DESC axis (Self vs Other); she has a Jupiter-Saturn square so her Jupiter in Taurus conjoins MC and her natal PE @14Taurus (9 South = Mars-Pluto content); her natal Mars Rx-Neptune Rx conjunction in Aquarius sets and thus is angular as well. Let’s also note a midpoint picture on that early morning of August 31, 1888 of Uranus-NN = Sun: inclination to violence even at the slightest cause (Ebertin.)
To close, let’s consider the Solar Eclipse under which all five ‘canonical’ murders were committed. Manifesting @15Leo (the lion point), the solar eclipse arose just as victim 1, Mary Ann Nichols, was found and falls within the 17 New North Saros Series with its themes providing a background of hectic, impulsive energy, socializing, and motivations involving financial projects and relationship issues (Brady.)
But above all, perhaps the eclipse filled the atmosphere with its most descriptive vibe of all–deep passion, both positively and, as we well know of Autumn 1888, negatively. Passion for union, for purification, for alcohol, and for the opportunity to deliver divine retribution to those who don’t measure up to fanatical fantasies.
Update Nov 28, 2015: have just purchased the Kindle Fire version of Richard Patterson’s Francis Thompson and the Ripper Paradox and can’t wait to read it! Richard has put 20 years’ worth of research into the theory of Thompson as Ripper suspect including masonic info and other intriguing details I haven’t read elsewhere. jc
Update Nov 30, 2015 9:22 pm est
Update Dec 5, 2015: this seems to be a rectified birth time for Francis Thompson with Sagittarius rising! Odd that the link didn’t turn up when I searched for his natal chart before – but here it is.