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Martin Bryant - Mass Murderer

By Noel Eastwood

Now available as part of the stand-alone certificate course - Mass Murderers & Serial Killers

Martin Bryant, Tasmania’s and Australia’s most notorious murderer, shot dead 35 and wounded 22 men, women and children on the 28th April, 1996, at seaside tourist centre, Port Arthur. He now resides in a maximum security prison in Tasmania, never to be released serving 21 years for each of his convictions, 735 years in total, he has no parole, never to be released. Bryant is described as simple minded, perhaps a sufferer of schizophrenia or Aspergers Syndrome, a mentally dysfunctional young man. He has had life-threatening psychotic episodes, he tried to commit suicide twice while still recovering from burns in the prison hospital. The question remains as to what was really going on inside his head on that fateful day.

Bryant is described by prison service psychiatrists as simple and attention seeking, he seeks friendships in the prison hospital, and he has the emotional level of a 2 year old. His IQ has been estimated at 11 years, which is in the low to normal range so low IQ is not an excuse. He still shows no remorse for the killings, perhaps because he is unable to understand the severity of his actions. He isn’t insane, he is not crazy, yet his actions that day were not the actions of a sane person. Unfortunately there are no psychological tests for sanity and so society continues to wonder what is going on in Bryant’s mind, maybe astrology can help us.

How do we apply Jungian Psychology to a person’s natal chart to understand the motivations of such a person? We do this by applying an understanding of “Complexes and Projection”. To do that we look for the conflict in the natal chart. Those planets that are highlighted by having many aspects, hard aspects, in angular houses or outer planet conjunctions are good indicators of conflict. Planets experiencing conflict include:

Chiron in the 1st house conjunct Pisces Ascendant; Saturn in the first house and conjunct Moon with only one major aspect which makes it a singleton; Moon is in the first house in Aries and opposite Mars (Retrograde r) the ruler of Aries; Sun is opposite Neptune an outer ‘subconscious’ planet; Venus is in Gemini at the focal point of a T-Square from Uranus / Pluto and Chiron and quincunx Neptune; Pisces Rising ruled by Neptune, Neptune is Lord of the Chart and Planet in High Degree; Uranus and Pluto are conjunct the Descendant; Neptune, Jupiter and Chiron form a Grand Trine.

The Focal Planets, their Complexes & Projections

NOTE: For our purposes in delineating Martin Bryant’s chart we need to consider using the key words ‘others’, ’affection’ and ’friends’ for Venus and ‘society’ for Moon as this is suitable for someone with Bryant’s limited intellect and social and emotional immaturity. You can view his charts here.

Let’s delineate these planets to see just what is in conflict & what they signify:

Moon in Aries in the first house shows a fiery nature with a tendency to immaturity and impatience, it is childlike, moody and will throw temper tantrums if it doesn’t gets its own way. The conflict arises when, “I seek immediate gratification for my needs. If I don’t seek this out I feel insignificant. If I do seek it out (tantrum) I get punished physically.” Mother is definitely the boss at home with Saturn conjunct, Mars opposition and quincunx Pluto, all are powerful and aggressive controlling aspects. The Moon in Aries in the sensitive 1st house indicates a great need for emotional support, a short temper and mood swings.

** Complex - Aries is a demanding sign for the emotional Moon to be in, suggesting a ‘child’ and / or a ‘punishment’ complex.

** Projection - Bryant projects the belief that, “Mother types hurt my feelings when I try to have my immediate needs met. I need to be punished.” He projects this onto the women or mother types that he comes into contact with. Because Moon is also ‘society’ he will project his expectation of punishment and need onto society at large.

Mars R opposite Moon shows that Bryant is unable to fully understand or integrate his drive and aggression. Mars in Libra in the 7th house (of others) indicates that anger and resentment is directed at society (from its opposition to the Moon). He may also feel that ‘others’ or ‘society’ seek to hurt him, which could manifest as delusions of persecution. Mars rules Aries but is in its detriment in Libra, and in opposition to the Moon. This also shows that nurturing is related to pain and anger or aggression, “I need my mother‘s love. If I seek it out I get hurt / punished. If I don’t seek it out I wither and die.” Could this mean that his mother, Moon, was in an abusive relationship during Bryant’s early childhood?

** Complex - This could create a ‘need to punish or be punished’ or the ‘persecution’ complex.

** Projection - His projection is an expectation that, “You will get impatient with me and physically punish me. I need to punish you” He projects this onto mother types and ‘others’ (society). He may seek out sadomasochistic relationships to live out his projection.

Moon is quincunx Pluto, on the 7th house cusp, which emphasises his psychological dysfunction when interacting with others. Negative Pluto aspects can manifest as fear of persecution, delusional thoughts and lack of emotional expression (Schizoid or Schizotypal personality). These are also present in sufferers of schizophrenia.

** Complex - This could manifest as a ‘persecution’ complex.

** Projection - He projects the belief that women (society, others) will hurt him, seek him out and punish him.

Moon in the 1st house emphasises his need great for nurturing and his mother’s affection, and like his Pisces Ascendant, shows that he is very sensitive. This creates conflict, “To seek out mother is painful, to not seek out mother is painful.” A heavy emphasis on Pisces and Moon, plus a Grand Trine involving his Ascendant ruler, Neptune, shows that he may fear being abandoned. Emphasis on the 1st house shows a need for attention and to be recognised as someone special.

** Complex - This suggests a ‘mother’ complex and a ‘narcissistic’ personality.

** Projection - He projects a neediness that women with mothering instincts will want to go out and hug, feed, nurture and smother with love. He will then project his impatience, anger and resentment onto them.

Moon conjunct Saturn shows that mother’s love (any form of love) is often withheld or absent. There is fear of rejection and guilt attached or provoked by the mother. This is a good indicator of depression and internalising or an inability to express emotion. This seeking for love and nurturing creates conflict, “If I don’t seek out love I will suffer, if I do seek it out I will suffer great psychological pain.”

** Complex - This could lead to an ‘unworthiness’ complex.

** Projection - He may project depression, frustration, resentment and even hatred onto women that represent mothers, he attracts mother types but expects to be hurt by them. There is also the possibility that ‘mother’ is projected onto society, expecting rejection but wishing for ‘others’ to nurture and love him where his own mother couldn’t or wouldn’t.

Saturn in the first house can be depressing, it could create an ‘inferiority’ complex and an inability to express his needs. Projecting a ‘victim’ personality, he expects to be criticised and rejected by others.

Neptune, Lord of the Chart and Planet in High Degree, as well as being heavily aspected and involved in a Grand Trine shows that Bryant can be delusional and can escape into fantasy. This manifests as a combination of escapism and a fear of abandonment.

** Complex - With the opposition from the Sun there is a need for a “heroic” father as well as a tendency to escape into a fantasy world. The opposition with the Sun may also show distrust or disillusionment (conflict) with his father or men in general. Combining these elements this could create a ‘hero’ complex. This is complicated by the tendency for Neptune and Sun to set up a ‘martyr’ or ‘victim’ complex as well.

** Projection - He projects, “I want a father figure to worship, idolize and to rescue me. He must be steady and helpful, one who will look after the security needs of his little boy.” He projects this onto men in general. He may also project distrust with Neptune is involved.

Chiron in the 1st house conjunct the Ascendant shows that Bryant’s wound is fundamental, he is fundamentally wounded emotionally and psychologically. It is strongly placed and also heavily aspected showing that it is not easy for him to shed this wound or to look inside to find an answer. The wound may have been there from birth (1st house is infancy), by Progression his 6th year was very painful. The square to Venus shows that seeking affection is painful and will open up his psychological wound. We all need love and Bryant’s conflict resides in the fact that despite the pain and suffering he still seeks love and nurturing.

** Complex - Chiron is also the planet of the healer, there may be a need, deep down, that shows Bryant wants to heal others, suggesting a ‘rescuer’ or ‘wounded healer’ complex.

** Projection - He projects, “If you are hurt then I will be able to rescue and heal you.” onto needy people especially those he wishes to have as friends. Then the fun begins as he begins to project his other complexes onto them.

Venus (Final Dispositor) is the focal planet of a T-Square from Uranus, Pluto and Chiron. Chiron shows that the wound influences every facet of his life (being in the first house) and that affection/love comes with a price, pain, because it opens up his Chironic wound. The square from Uranus and Pluto show that love and friendship is wrought with suffering (Pluto) and stress (Uranus). As a focal planet of the T-Square, Venus (friendship, affection, love) is sacrificed to maintain emotional and psychological balance. However, love is a desirable thing and represents his greatest need (friendship, mothering, nurturing and love), but the cost is high – psychological and emotional pain. All of us need love, despite the emotional cost, we still seek love, and pay for it through broken relationships and the suffering that follows. With the square from Pluto and Uranus there may also be the belief that women are whores (see Anne Summers, Damned Whores & God’s Police). This is a very lonely Venus.

** Complex - With this emphasis on love he could create a ‘wounded lover’ or ‘poor lonely me’ complex.

** Projection - He projects, “I have been wounded, I need a friend who is caring and will heal me.”

Mercury (F.D.) is a singleton with one aspect to the Sun and one with the North Node. Here we see some defensiveness, it is in Taurus and in the 2nd house with Sun so we can presume that emotional and material security are high on his needs list. This is emphasised by the Moon, Chiron and Saturn in the 1st house (insecurity) and Venus (also insecurity). Security and stability are therefore the commodities that Bryant seeks. As the ruler of the conscious mind Mercury in Taurus is slow and down to Earth, not an electric genius like Aquarius or Gemini. It rules Gemini on the 4th cusp and Virgo on the 7th cusp, showing insecurity at home with his family and with others. We could also interpret this as an inability to trust those close to him, such as family (Moon, mother) and others (7th house, Venus) thus creating conflict.

** Complex - This could create an ‘insecurity’ or ‘inferiority’ complex.

** Projection - He projects a neediness, to be understood, a need for friendship onto others. He will wants others to be friendly and to understand him but expects rejection.

Venus and Mercury are in Mutual Reception and joint Final Dispositors, which is like a conjunction between the two, this shows that Bryant needs to have friends to communicate and share his life interests with. However, to do so would just open his emotional wounds and prove to be very painful and so he enters a state of inner conflict.

Mother Complex – the heavy emphasis on the Moon in the first house indicates an irresponsible and possibly violent mother. There is immaturity, dominance, aggression, paranoia and impatience which is seen in the most sensitive and thus most important house in the chart - it shows just how badly damaged his psyche really is. Bryant is in desperate need of a nurturing mother (society) to care for his emotional needs. Unfortunately he will project his pain, his impatience and need to be punished on to them. This projection goes both ways, he expects society to react negatively and he may act out these negative behaviours back onto them as well. His mother figures will be impatient, angry and will physically as well as emotionally punish him. He will then become depressed, resentful and angry at them in turn.

Persecution complex - Mars R opposite Aries Moon in the 7th house of others, and the focus on the first house are described in the Psychodynamic Theory of the ‘Bad Breast”. This theory proposes that the mother dislikes breast feeding or there is pain when breast feeding, mother has little or no milk and the breast is withdrawn too early, mother may hate or reject her child, she may feel dirty when breast feeding, etc. The baby learns that mother’s breast gives no love or nourishment. As he grows older the ‘mother’ or ’bad breast’ is projected onto society at large, an expectation that society will not nurture and support him. The child grows up believing that love is unattainable and that women / mother types / society are cold and loveless.

The opposition to Mars r from the 1st house shows that ‘others’ as well as mothers actively reject him. This leads to a projection onto society at large - “People (or others) do not love me, do not support me and actively reject and hurt me.” With such an active and regressive Mars there is some indication that Bryant was bullied at school as well. Frustration and bullying leads to anger and depression, this plus the quincunx from Pluto shows a disposition to develop a persecution complex.

Mars in the 7th thus shows a projection of pain and persecution, “I feel hurt” => “Others hurt me” => “I hurt you” => “I need to punish you.” => “I need to punish society / others.”

“I need a friend” complex

Venus is in poor aspect (T-Square) with the powerful outer planets Chiron, Uranus and Pluto showing that Bryant will project onto society a need for friendship but an expectation of rejection. If Bryant was actively bullied at home and at school then this would also point to a personality that is not conducive to making friends. Here we have a slow boy, not too bright, he is self-centered and absolutely boring, no wonder no-one wants to be his friend. His projection becomes, “I need a friend - people I approach for friendship eventually reject and hurt me - I need to punish them”. Add a dose of his persecution complex and look out society. These complexes may have been exactly what led up to what happened on that fateful day in 1996 – the projection of an unfulfilled Venus / Moon onto society.

“I need to impose (Saturn) punishment (Mars) onto others (Moon & Venus) because they do not provide my nurturing and friendship needs (Moon, Chiron, Venus).”

What Triggers Complexes & Projections —Transits, Progressions & Directions

Complexes can quite easily become visible when their key planets or houses are triggered through transits and progressions. At the time of the massacre Bryant was experiencing a Saturn Return, transiting Saturn had entered the 1st house in June of 1995, retrograded in August and finally crossed over for good in February 1996. It was Applying to natal Saturn by 5º and to natal Moon by 11º on the 28th April. Transiting Chiron opposed natal Saturn exact in November 1995 and natal Moon in January 1996 retrograding back towards an exact opposition to M again in March 1996. Transiting Mars was exact conjunct natal Moon on the 11th of April and opposed itself on the 16th. In his Solar Arc Directed chart Sun was exact square Mars, to the minute! His Secondary Progressed chart showed Mars exact quincunx Sun to within 4´ of arc, Venus was exact conjunct Jupiter and Sun was exact sextile Moon.

To explain the effects of these transits & progressions we must first understand the natal chart, which we have done. The two strongest outer planets particular to Martin Bryant are Saturn and Chiron, and both acted as triggers for the release of the demons in his subconscious.

First of all transiting Saturn crossed from the 12th house to the 1st, an ending and a beginning, a rebirth, but also one of the most depressing times we can experience. The pressure had been building up for some months, since June 1995, when Saturn first crossed his Ascendant.

Transiting Chiron then applied pressure for more release when it opposed his Moon in January and again in March 1996, it was also residing in the house of ‘others’ at the time creating more stress in his need for friendship.

Chiron chimes in to bring the release even closer to the actual date by conjuncting his natal Moon on the 11th April and then opposing its natal position on the 16th April.

Neptune is quincunx exact Venus in February showing disillusionment and disappointment in his search for friendship.

The Progressions and Directions (internal needs) also highlight Sun (self-esteem needs), Moon (emotional needs), Chiron (humiliation and frustration leading to anger), Venus (needs for friendship) and Jupiter (expanding these needs out of all proportion to that which is required). With these powerful transits and progressions is it any wonder that something had to explode? A premeditated act of revenge upon a cold and uncaring society.

In summary, Martin Bryant has a number of planetary constellations that could manifest as complexes severely limiting his ability to cope with the demands of life and to be fully able to contribute to the community in a psychologically balanced way. He demonstrates many significators for psychological disturbance.

Post Script - I recently told a friend that I had presented a workshop on Martin Bryant. She went quiet and slowly told me that a week before the shooting she had a dream, she saw a blond headed man at a table in a café. He was surrounded by an aura of impending doom. She saw him stand up and walk away with a bag, she knew it contained something evil, she then awoke in a sweat. She felt sick a week later when she heard of the massacre and saw her dream enacted on the news. She has had difficulty dreaming since that night.

Further Reading:

Liz Greene - Horoscopes in Manifestation, 1997

Glenn Perry - Introduction to AstroPsychology, 1998

Stephen Arroyo - Astrology, Karma and Transformation, 1978

Liz Greene - Relating - contains archive of news articles on the Port Arthur massacre AND - articles on Jung, complexes & projection

© Noel Eastwood 2000

This article appeared in the September 2000 (Vol.30 /3) Federation of Australian Astrologers Journal, titled “Jung Meets Martin Bryant”.

You have permission to copy this article or extracts from it for private study purposes only. If you quote extracts please do so with proper reference to the author, FAA journal and this web site, thank you. If you wish to publish these articles in your journal or magazine please let me know, I will be both flattered and excited to think that someone else finds my passion as interesting as I do.


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