On Monday May 6, 2013, a decade-old mystery was solved in Cleveland, Ohio when neighbors heard cries and banging on the door of 2207 Seymour Avenue. Upon investigating, Angel Cordero and Charles Ramsey found Amanda Berry, missing since 2003, who told them she had been held captive in the house for ten years. Ramsey broke out the bottom of the storm door, whereupon Amanda and her six-year-old daughter crawled through to freedom, telling Ramsay to call the police, that there were two other women still trapped inside. Within hours police had arrested 52-year-old Ariel Castro, the owner of the home, charging him with kidnapping, rape and assault.
Berry and her fellow captives, Michelle Knight and Georgina DeJesus, were held in the house for between nine and 11 years, sometimes in chains or tied up with rope, imprisoned in locked interior rooms. Beaten and sexually assaulted repeatedly, Castro also forced at least five abortions by starvation and abdominal beatings. DNA testing confirmed he is the father of Berry’s young daughter. All three women were abducted within three miles of where they were held captive.
In a particularly bizarre twist, Castro’s daughter Arlene was a friend of Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, who was allegedly abducted by Castro on the pretext of taking her to visit his daughter. Castro inserted himself into the investigation of her disappearance, joining the search for her, and allegedly inquiring solicitously of her mother when they met socially, as to how she was holding up under the strain of her daughter’s loss (both families hailed from the same west Cleveland neighborhood). Castro’s son Anthony wrote an article about Berry’s and DeJesus’ disappearance for the Cleveland Plain Press in 2004, while a journalism student, interviewing DeJesus’ mother in the process.
Several personal-named asteroids match key persons and places in the story, combining with mythic-named points to underscore the central themes. Dominating the chart for Berry’s release is a stunning Grand Cross with additional celestial factors portraying the story in vivid detail.
On a purely planetary level, Pluto best describes the issues involved. This planet, named for the Roman god of death and the underworld, is equated to the Greek god Hades, part of whose story centers on his abduction and rape of Persephone. But Greek myth is top-heavy with stories of rape, due in large part to the transgressions of Zeus, king of philanderers, who was often none too temperate in his methods of seduction, so there are a score of mythic-named asteroids which fit the bill when investigating celestial markers of this case.
The Grand Cross itself involves the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square, the defining aspect of our times, violent and explosive. At the time of Berry’s release, we find:
- Pluto at 11 Capricorn with asteroid Ohio close beside at 12 Capricorn, an image of rape and abduction (Pluto) in the Buckeye State (Ohio).
- The square to Uranus at 10 Aries shows the planet of freedom and release accompanied by the Moon at 11 Aries (a time of approximately 5:50 PM EDT has been reported for her release) and asteroid George (#3854, for Georgina DeJesus) at 8 Aries.
- Forming the remaining arms of the Grand Cross are asteroid Cleveland (#6296) at 5 Cancer, opposed Pluto and squared Uranus, and
- Asteroid Knight (#29391, for Michelle Knight) at 10 Libra, squared to Pluto and opposed Uranus.
In this instance, the addition of centaur Nessus at the midpoint of Uranus and Pluto, roughly in semisquare to each, gives us an almost human-like image for the pattern, with Nessus as the “head” of the Grand Cross “body”. Nessus is named for a centaur who attempted to rape Heracles’ wife Deianeira after offering to carry her across a flooded river (an eerie echo of Castro’s offer of a ride to DeJesus) [more on Nessus and sexual peccadilloes here]. At 28 Aquarius, Nessus conjoins a Black Hole, an image of the parallel reality Castro created in his home, as well as the complete disappearance and decade-long missing status of the three women, invisible to all but each other and their captor. Nessus is also accompanied by asteroid Europa at 27 Aquarius, named for a mortal woman Zeus abducted in the guise of a bull, conveying her, like Nessus, upon his back across a body of water. Nessus opposes asteroid Eurydike at 27 Leo, named for Orpehus’ wife, who trod upon a poisonous serpent and died while fleeing the unwanted advances of Aristaeus, another image of rape.
So we have the city, the state, asteroids representing two of the three victims, and several points reiterating the rape and abduction theme, all bound in one major configuration on the day in question.
Amanda Berry is arguably the most visible face of the story, and she is also well represented celestially. Asteroid Berry (#3684) anchors a string of Taurean points from 1 Taurus, followed by asteroid Aristaeus (Eurydike’s would-be rapist) at 7 Taurus, Mercury (news of the day) at 8 Taurus, Mars (violence, abuse, sexual contact) at 11 Taurus, and the Sun at 15 Taurus. Asteroid Amanda (#725) at 3 Sagittarius closely squares Neptune (ruling victims, isolation/incarceration and disappearance generally) at 5 Pisces and is bound in a second Grand Cross with asteroids Georgia (#359, also for Georgina DeJesus), Io (named for another of Zeus’ unwilling conquests) and Kassandra (named for the Trojan seer raped by Ajax) at 1, 3 and 5 Gemini, and asteroid Sabine at 10 Virgo, named for an entire race of women abducted and raped by the first generation of Roman men, to acquire wives.
In addition to asteroid Knight in the Uranus/Pluto Grand Cross, victim Michelle Knight has several asteroids representing her first name. The exact match, asteroid Michelle (#1376) falls at 21 Cancer, in square to asteroid Kallisto at 18 Libra, named for yet another of Zeus’ rape victims. Asteroid Michel (#1348, Michelle’s male equivalent) at 29 Scorpio is within orb of asteroid Amanda at 3 Sagittarius, just as the two were held captive together for so long. Another variant, asteroid Michela (#1045), falls at 8 Scorpio, conjunct both Saturn, ruling imprisonment, at 7 Scorpio, and asteroid Persephone, named for the goddess raped by Hades, at 10 Scorpio.
Unfortunately for the celestial astro-forensics investigator, there is no suitable asteroid match for Ariel Castro. But there are plenty of connections from his chart to that of the rescue and those of his victims Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus (no birth data for Michelle Knight was available prior to publication).
Born 10 July 1960, Ariel Castro’s nativity shows a stunning Grand Cross of natal Nessus at 28 Taurus opposed George (for Georgina DeJesus) at 27 Scorpio and squared Michelle at 25 Leo and Berry at 27 Aquarius, bringing together the names of all three victims with a minor planet depicting sexual assault, rape, and abduction. Natal Nessus was exactly squared by transit Nessus when his crimes were discovered (with transit Nessus also conjoined natal asteroid Berry, Amanda Berry becoming the vehicle for that exposure). Natally Nessus’ importance in the nativity is heightened by an exact sextile to Mercury at 28 Cancer and an inconjunct to Jupiter at 26 Sagittarius, integrating it more fully into the major planetary energies.
Other connections between rape-related asteroids and those representing his victims abound. Michelle at 25 Leo is conjunct Medusa at 28 Leo, named for a priestess of Athena raped by Poseidon. Knight at 9 Leo conjoins Leda at 6 Leo, another of Zeus’ coerced partners. Michela at 8 Aries conjoins Io at 2 Aries, Amanda at 4 Aquarius is exactly sextile Kassandra at 4 Gemini, which is itself in a cluster just beyond natal Nessus, including Sabine and Europa at 6 and 10 Gemini.
Castro’s Sun at 18 Cancer is conjunct asteroid Apophis at 15 Cancer, a point named for the ancient Egyptian personification of pure evil, and noted for the commission of horrible crimes. Apophis was also a key player in the charts of Cho Seung-hui, the Virginia Tech shooter (exactly conjunct Uranus/technology); James Holmes, the Aurora movie theater shooter (square Mars/Pluto, semisextile Neptune/movies); and Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter (conjunct Mercury/children).
Included in this mix is asteroid Michel, the male variant of Michelle, at 16 Cancer, and it seems Michelle Knight was the focus of most of Castro’s most vicious acts. Impregnated and forced to abort five times, Michelle was so badly beaten that she will require facial reconstructive surgery. Castro’s Sun is also squared by Aristaeus, named for Eurydike’s would-be rapist, and opposed to Tantalus at 19 Capricorn, another point noted for heinous crimes (mythically, the killing of his own son, reminiscent here of the forced abortions).
When the captives were released, in addition to transit Nessus squared natal Nessus, several other transits highlighted Castro’s involvement. Transit Mercury (news) at 8 Taurus was an exact match for natal Cleveland, with transit Aristaeus also conjoined at 7 Taurus. Transit Mars and Sun at 11 and 15 Taurus were honing in on natal Mars at 14 Taurus (this natal degree may also help to explain Castro’s predilection for young girls, as it opposes natal Hebe at 12 Scorpio, representing hebephilia, sexual attraction for post-pubescent but underage girls; Gina DeJesus was 14 when abducted, Amanda Berry was 16). Transit Michelle at 21 Cancer was conjoined his natal 18 Cancer Sun.
Amanda Berry’s birth chart (born 22 April 1986) is also highly descriptive of her nightmarish ordeal. A natal Mars/Sabine conjunction at 11 and 15 Capricorn was conjunct Castro’s natal Saturn (imprisonment) at 14 Capricorn, and showed transit Pluto and Ohio conjoined from 11 and 12 Capricorn at her release. A natal stellium of asteroids Aristaeus, Child (for her daughter born in captivity), Io, Europa, Damocles (the doom hanging unseen overhead) and Jupiter at 2, 4, 7, 8, 10 and 13 Pisces is squared by Castro’s “rape cluster” of Kassandra/Sabine/Europa at 4/6/10 Gemini (which itself also conjoins her natal asteroid Berry at 11 Gemini) and was conjoined by transit Neptune and Chiron at 5 and 13 Pisces when she was freed. Natal Kassandra at 18 Aries exactly squares Castro’s Sun at 18 Cancer, which is conjunct her natal Eurydike at 16 Cancer. Natal asteroid Amanda at 23 Taurus conjoins Castro’s natal Nessus at 28 Taurus, and had been transited by Venus just prior to her escape. Her 2 Taurus Sun was opposed Castro’s 6 Scorpio Neptune (disappearance, victimization), and was conjoined by asteroid Berry at 1 Taurus at her rescue.
Berry was abducted April 21, 2003, the day before her seventeenth birthday. A conjunction of Aristaeus, Berry and Mercury at 12, 18 and 19 Taurus conjoined Castro’s natal Mars at 14 Taurus, with Neptune (disappearance) squaring roughly from 13 Aquarius. Asteroid Amanda at 6 Cancer was conjoined by Kallisto (another rape myth) at 0 Cancer, opposing transit Nemesis (undoing) at 3 Capricorn and Berry’s natal Neptune at 5 Capricorn, squared transit Europa at 7 Aries. An exact triple conjunction of transit Mars with Leda and Sabine at 29 Capricorn was joined by Medusa and Io at 1 and 5 Aquarius, and Nessus at 24 Capricorn, with most points squared her 2 Taurus Sun and Castro’s natal Aristaeus at 25 Capricorn, opposed his natal Mercury at 28 Cancer.
Born 13 February 1990, Gina DeJesus’ 24 Aquarius Sun squares Castro’s 28 Taurus Nessus, and fell near the midpoint of the Uranus/Pluto square when she was released. Natal Ohio and Pluto at 13 and 17 Scorpio oppose Castro’s natal Mars/Cleveland at 8 and 14 Taurus, with transit Mars and the Sun at 11 and 15 Taurus also in opposition at her escape. Natal Cleveland at 29 Leo was opposed by transit Nessus/Europa at 28 and 27 Aquarius for her release, and conjoined by transit Eurydike at 27 Leo. Natal Persephone and Eurydike at 3 and 8 Gemini conjoin Castro’s natal Kassandra/Sabine/Europa at 4, 6 and 10 Gemini, with transit Georgia, Io and Kassandra conjoined from 1, 3 and 5 Gemini when she was freed.
It’s rare for women taken under these conditions to be kept so long, even rarer for them to finally be freed. Obviously, we can’t call them fortunate, in light of the horrible experiences they endured, which will doubtless leave lasting scars. Amanda Berry’s mother died without ever knowing her daughter’s fate, and Amanda will have the living symbol of her captivity with her forever in the form of her own daughter, who is also Ariel Castro’s. Michelle Knight’s loss of five children and the severe beatings she received will leave both physical and psychological scars. Gina DeJesus has to live with the knowledge that her tormentor was her friend’s father, an intimate of her family.
Although they are no longer in danger, in many ways, their ordeal has just begun.