Ascent Into Madness
By Glenn Perry
That’s life, that’s what people say. You’re riding high
in April, shot down in May.1
On March 24th, 2015, the world shuddered upon hearing that Germanwings Flight 9525 inexplicably crashed into a mountainside in the French Alps, killing all six crew members and 144 passengers from 18 countries. In the days following, it was determined that co-pilot, 27-year old Andreas Lubitz, was alone at the helm when the plane began its rapid descent. The flight recorder, which was recovered amidst debris that covered 500 acres, revealed that Lubitz locked pilot Patrick Sondenheimer out of the cockpit after Sondenheimer went to the restroom. During the next 10 minutes, Sondenheimer could be heard pleading with Lubitz to let him in, passenger screams grew increasingly frantic, a pick ax repeatedly tore into the door, but inside the cockpit, the only sound was the steady, easy breathing of Lubitz. Then, a horrific crash. Followed by deathly silence.
It should not be surprising if it turns out he had manic-depressive (bi-polar) disorder. I suspect that when his dark side took over, it was total. And the event that will define him forever―the murder-suicide of 150 people―is itself a metaphor of his psyche: head in the pink clouds of expansive sky one moment, and sudden descent of soul into a black crevice of death the next.
As I had little information on Lubitz at the time, this was a speculative hypothesis to be sure, almost entirely based on the aforementioned dichotomy of his birthchart: a bi-polar split between light, buoyant Sagittarius and dark, brooding Scorpio. Before analyzing his chart in greater detail, it will be useful to review what we now know about Andreas Lubitz.
Some Background Facts
Although Germany is notorious for not disclosing medical records, it was almost immediately revealed that Lubitz had an episode of severe depression in 2009 that necessitated taking several months off from Lufthansa’s demanding flight school. However, the airline said he passed all medical and suitability tests “with flying colors” upon resuming training. Germanwings likewise reported Lubitz was qualified, trusted, and showed no signs of physical or psychological distress before the crash. No mention was ever made of manic-depression or bi-polar disorder.
Within a week, confirmation of my hypothesis surfaced. Law enforcement officials searching his apartment obtained a tablet computer containing most of the pilot’s browsing history. Under the name “Skydevil”, Lubitz repeatedly searched for “bipolarity” and “manic depression” throughout the week leading up to the disaster. He also searched terms related to headaches and impaired vision, afflictions for which he was seeking treatment. Other searches were for “suicide” and for information on cockpit doors.2
Investigators found torn up notes from doctors who had placed Lubitz on medical leave as a consequence of suicidal ideation. One letter in his waste bin stated flatly that Lubitz was not fit to do his job. Ominously, the letter had been slashed.3 German officials said these notes were related to a psychiatric illness that was a “long lasting condition.”4 According to medical records since released, Lubitz was taking medication to treat depression and anxiety disorder with panic attacks.5
While searches for “bi-polarity” and “manic-depression” are not proof that Lubitz suffered from the disorder, it increases the probability that he did. In retrospect, it’s clear that Lubitz hid his mental illness from Germanwings―a task made easy by Germany’s strict medical privacy laws―and concealed from his doctors that he was continuing to work despite their assessment that he was “unfit to fly”.6
Neuburg an der Donau, Germany7
- confusion, depressed mood
- thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself
- hyperactivity, agitation, hostility
- blurred vision
Some of these side effects constitute the very symptoms for which Lubitz was seeking help―depression, suicidal ideation, agitation, hostility, and impaired vision. Even so, the real point is this: unless Lubitz openly and willingly revealed his inner demons, he might merely have appeared a bit hazy, but not crazy. But crazy Lubitz was. Whether from unresolved psychological issues, side effects induced by medication, or a combination of the two, Lubitz clearly was in an unbalanced state when he decided to commit mass murder-suicide.
Why would anyone, regardless of their state of mind, commit such a horrific act? It is one thing to kill yourself; another to take 149 innocent souls with you. To go deeper into this question, we need to revisit our provisional diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, and more specifically a subtype called “dysphoric mania”. We will then examine Lubitz’s chart for additional insight.
Bi-polar disorder, or manic-depression, is characterized by periods of elevated mood followed by depression. Manic episodes entail a week to six months of abnormal cheerfulness, boundless energy, and reduced need for sleep. During this time, the person is prone to racing thoughts and foolish decisions based on unrealistic ideas about the future, followed by irritability or rage if intentions are thwarted. In extreme cases, impaired judgement morphs into a psychotic delusion. The individual may fervently believe he has a special “divine” mission, has been “chosen” for some extraordinary destiny, or other grandiose notions.
Depressive periods, conversely, are marked by crying, emotional withdrawal, despair, pessimism, and in severe cases, a wish to die. The latter could be externalized as a paranoid delusion that others wish one dead. Like mania, depressive episodes can last anywhere from a week to six months or more.
Individuals with bi-polar disorder experience on average one episode every two years, with the manic and depressive phases lasting three to six months. There can be a remission of several months or more between phases, or simply an abrupt switch in mood polarity, followed by a period of remission before the next episode occurs. In some cases, however, there can be a faster cycling between the two phases, often four or more episodes in a single year. And at the far end of the spectrum in what’s called “ultradian” cycling (“within a day”), the pendulum is moving so fast it becomes blurred and the individual experiences depressive and manic states simultaneously.
This is what I suspect was happening with Lubitz. Dysphoric mania (or agitated depression), occurs when mania and depression overlap and begin to fuse. Symptoms include agitation, anxiety, guilt, impulsiveness, irritability, morbid and suicidal ideation, panic, paranoia, and rage. It is not a pretty picture. Mixed states are extremely dangerous because despair can combine with anger, impulsivity and sometimes grandiosity to produce a potentially lethal, suicidal-homicidal state.
In December 2014 Lubitz was in a car crash that caused subsequent migraines and impaired vision. This might have triggered a cascade of additional worries, for any impairment in his physical or psychological functioning jeopardized his career as a pilot. Numerous reports state that flying was a passion for Lubitz. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a professional flyer and entered training immediately upon graduating high school. Working for Germanwings was the fulfillment of a life-long ambition.
In the wake of his accident, however, Lubitz was in a double-bind. If he ignored his problems, they could get worse and destroy his career; yet, in seeking help, he ran the risk of being found out by his superiors, which again would end his career. He needed a cure but needing a cure might prove fatal to his identity as a pilot. This sort of double-bind constitutes a pressure cooker dilemma. Caught between Scylla and Charybdis, there is equal danger no matter which way one turns. No-exit predicaments like this can quickly escalate into high anxiety and paranoia―or, dysphoric mania.
Lubitz’s former girlfriend, a flight attendant known only as Maria W., told a German newspaper how Andreas worried that “health problems” would dash his dreams. When Lubitz discussed work, he would become agitated, complaining bitterly about his superiors and the pressure of the job. “At night he woke up and screamed, ‘We’re going down!'” she recalled. Lubitz also told her: “One day I’m going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember.” The flight attendant eventually broke off with him because it became “increasingly clear that he had problems.”8
Maria W.’s testimony is significant on several fronts. First, his nightmare of “going down” can be taken as a metaphor, symbolizing his fear of losing control and failing at his job. Termination of employment or “going down” might figuratively have been associated with death. Second, his vow to one day do something to “change the whole system and everyone will know my name” evidences delusions of grandeur. I suspect his fantasy of fame was compensatory to a fear of obscurity coupled with anxiety that his employment (and thus career-identity) might soon be terminated. Unable to accept that his dreams could be dashed by his own health problems, Lubitz appears to have externalized blame onto “the whole system”, by which I assume he means the airlines industry and more specifically, his employer, Germanwings.
Delusions of grandeur can be a reaction formation to delusions of persecution. The latter occur when the person attributes responsibility for unwanted experiences to the malevolent intentions of others. If Lubitz feared being terminated from his job due to “health problems,” and if he could not accept that sometimes bad things happen to good people, then he might have wrongly and spitefully imagined that “they” (Germanwings) were the cause of his problems, or even that they wanted to destroy his career. Such irrational thinking, in turn, can fuel a defense―delusions of grandeur―that compensates for what is feared: he becomes an all-good, omnipotent super-hero that can right all wrongs and, if necessary, even destroy the wrongdoers.
Andreas Lubitz Birth Chart
As mentioned, there are two distinct tendencies in the birth chart of Andreas Lubitz. The first is a massive stellium of planets in Sagittarius in the 11th house, at the center of which is his Sun. The second tendency is an almost equally powerful three planet viper’s nest in Scorpio, which includes the Moon, Mars, and Pluto. Of course, Scorpio-Pluto is not innately evil; rather, it symbolizes a process of transformation that is inherently difficult and usually painful. It is precisely one’s efforts to avoid such a process that results in what we generally call evil―vindictiveness, coercion, violation, betrayal, and murder.
As the dispositor of his Sagittarian planets and also trine them, Jupiter is happily aligned with the first cluster. Yet, it’s also uncomfortably shackled to the second by virtue of being disposed by Mars in Scorpio while also being quincunx Mars and Moon. And at 19 degrees 56 minutes, Jupiter is exactly quincunx the mid-point of Moon and Mars, which makes this 3-planet configuration inextricably, painfully entangled.
Trines, of course, connote easy, open and encouraging relationships, whereas the closing quincunx denotes a crisis, threat, or wound. It seems that Jupiter’s position in the chart is at the crossroads of two, seemingly incompatible paths. An apt metaphor for Jupiter (at least for Lubitz) is Istanbul in Turkey, long regarded as a gateway city that bridges two distinct cultures, Christian and Islamic. Like the trine, the high road points north toward Europe with its refined sensibilities, rule of law, and hopeful horizons. The quincunxial low road points south toward ISIS and the rest of the Middle East, currently embroiled in horrific wars, evil, and death. We will return to this point shortly. But first, the stellium in Sagittarius warrants further comment.
Sagittarius symbolizes the search for truth and the need for expansion, which is frequently fulfilled through long distance travel, as befits someone who flies for an international airline and aspires to be a long-haul pilot. The ninth sign is associated with hope, faith, and trust in a just and benevolent Universe. Naturally elevated and enthusiastic, problems can arise if Sagittarian energy is over-represented. Too many Sag planets may lead to an overfunctioning of that part of the psyche as evidenced by lack of adequate restraint, blind optimism, excessive faith, missionary zeal, and unrealistic expectations. While impulsivity is inherent to any stellium, it is even more so when the stellium is in a fire sign. Add to this that his stellium’s only outlet is a trine to Jupiter, and we’re off the rails―like an engineer addicted to amphetamines driving a runaway train with no brake heading downhill into a steep curve.
Every sign-planet system can be correlated to a particular mental disorder if that sign-planet system is functioning in an extreme, unbalanced way. As I have described elsewhere, the specific pathology associated with Sagittarius-Jupiter is mania.9 This alone might be worrying when looking at Lubitz’s chart. However, there are other troubling signs as well.
Lubitz’s Sun in Sagittarius is conjunct Saturn. this would seem to correlate with an unrelenting pressure to succeed as well as a tendency to identify (Sun) with career (Saturn). As stated, Lubitz had the lofty ambition of becoming a captain, the ultimate job position for a professional pilot. Not surprisingly, the pathology associated with Saturn is depression, which can be triggered when individuals perceive themselves as inadequate or inferior. Saturn demands perfection, which is an unattainable absolute; thus, Sun conjunct Saturn suggests a vulnerability to depression if the person feels they have failed to realize their ambitions as a consequence of some personal deficiency. “If he did deliberately crash the plane,” said his ex-girlfriend Maria, “it was because he understood that because of his health problems, his big dream of a job at Lufthansa, of a job as captain and as a long-haul pilot was practically impossible.”10
A further complicating factor is Sun conjunct Uranus within one degree of arc. With the Sun in Uranus’ house―the 11th―and conjunct Uranus, this constitutes a repeating theme and doubling down of the Sun-Uranus dynamic. As ruler of Leo, the Sun’s primary role is to differentiate a separate identity from the collective; that is, to be a distinct individual of some worth and importance. Conversely, the function of Uranus is to recognize one’s embeddedness in the collective, as well as the inevitability of change and progress. The Uranian imperative is liberation from fixed definitions of self by opening to the cosmic will and allowing for the emergence of a transpersonal identity that evolves over time.
Ruling opposite signs and thus naturally antithetical, the challenge with Sun-Uranus aspects is to maintain a stable sense of self in the midst of evolving circumstances that require resilience, recognition of impermanence, and emancipation from the dictates of pride. If unintegrated, a Sun-Uranus conjunction can indicate a relatively weak, unstable self-image, perverse rebelliousness, resistance to change, sense of personal insignificance, and compensatory egotism.11
With regard to the latter―compensatory egotism―the fear of being eclipsed by the collective may drive the person to identify with a radical cause, some grand revolutionary aim such as wanting to “change the whole system…” In turn, this can result in a certain impersonal coldness or detachment, as evidenced, for instance, by a willingness to sacrifice individual human beings for the future enhancement of the race.12 Of course, this enhancement may turn out to be merely the ego in disguise wanting its own enhancement, as when Lubitz unwittingly reveals that his true motivation for changing the system is “so that everyone will know my name.”
Tracing the Flow of Dispositors
An extremely useful tool for uncovering the plot structure of the personal narrative is to trace the flow of dispositors. A dispositor is a planet that rules the sign that another planet is in. The disposed planet passes the baton to its dispositor, which is then required to carry forward the agenda that the disposed planet has set in motion. The dispositor, in turn, relies upon its dispositor, and so on, until the chain ends with a planet occupying its own sign or looping back to an earlier planet in the sequence. A planet in its own sign is called the “final dispositor”, so named because, being in its own sign, it cannot be disposed. As such, a final dispositor has major significance, for it’s the final cause of the entire chain; that for the sake of which every other planetary action contributes.
In Lubitz chart, the chain starts with his Ascendant and the two Capricorn planets, Venus and Neptune. Note that Venus and Neptune do not themselves dispose of any planets since there are no planets in Taurus, Libra, or Pisces. The Ascendant is signified by Uranus, whereas Venus and Neptune are disposed by Saturn. Both Uranus and Saturn are in Sagittarius along with the Sun and Mercury. All four Sagittarian planets are disposed by Jupiter, which proceeds to Mars, and then Mars (with the Moon) is disposed by Pluto, the final dispositor. As a flow chart, it can be depicted thusly:
Andreas Lubitz Flow Chart of Dispositors
When a planet is the dispositor of multiple other planets, that planet is itself a powerful agent, for its actions are in the service of extensive psychological real estate. The four planets in Sagittarius are all funneling energy to Jupiter, each output modified by the nature of the planetary sender and all relying upon Jupiter to further their aims. Because Jupiter trines each of the four planets it disposes, it amplifies their Sagittarian quality, like an afterburner injecting additional Jupiterian fuel into planets already occupying the sign it rules. Their enhanced thrust, in turn, gives an additional boost to Jupiter, which is yet further strengthened by being in Aries. Like the stellium, which is an Aries aspect, Aries has no off button. Always on, it operates like a constant accelerant for any planet that occupies it―go, go, go! Taken all together, if ever there was a formula for mania, this is it.
The entire configuration is like winning the lottery, an embarrassment of riches. Imagine investing in four different tech companies during the dotcom boom, which combine to produce a profit so immense that you never have to work again―you are free, free, free at last! Buoyed by all this support, Jupiter in Aries is saying “Oh yes! The future is yours! Go forth and conquer!” But wait, not so fast. Jupiter is quincunx its own dispositor, Mars, as well as quincunx Moon in Scorpio. So, what do you do? Giddy with success, you take all that money and invest it in your own start-up company, French Alp Airlines, which goes bust within two years and plummets you into bankruptcy.
This is just a metaphor, of course, but it captures Lubitz’s story in microcosm. Bankruptcy is just another name for disaster, as in “airlines disaster.” As astrologers, we know disaster actually means “against the stars”. In resisting Scorpio’s imperative for psychological transformation, Lubitz quite literally went against his own stars.
Let us consider exactly how.
Ascent into Madness
Jupiter is the beneficiary of the four planets in Sagittarius, but also sits at a crossroads: Sagittarian planets behind it, Scorpio in front. In other words, Jupiter is the fulcrum that pivots the story in an entirely new direction, and one not so fortunate. Lubitz’s Sagittarius stellium and its trine to Jupiter suggests a super-abundance of faith in his capacity to just go for it; yet, this leads to a painful crisis related to Jupiter being disposed by and quincunx Mars.
An aspect derives its meaning from the nature of the sign that corresponds to that angle in the natural zodiac. A closing quincunx is a Scorpionic angle; thus, not only is Mars in Scorpio, it forms a Scorpionic aspect to Jupiter. This would seem to constitute a reversal of fortune for Jupiter. As a Scorpio angle, a closing quincunx correlates to a wound, injury, or crisis that involves the nature of the planets that comprise the aspect.
The challenge is compounded by Jupiter being quincunx its own dispositor. This can result in blowback. The dispositor (Mars) is not inclined to help the planet it disposes (Jupiter); rather, Jupiter’s actions backfire, having the opposite effect of what was intended. We can understand this as Mars feeling threatened by and hostile to Jupiter’s ethical imperative, as if its needs―for freedom and survival―are jeopardized by Jupiter’s prime directive. The more Jupiter presses for truth, justice, and morality, the more Mars is inclined to attack all that Jupiter signifies. In other words, Jupiter’s actions backfire in relation to Mars.
While we can talk about planetary functions as if they were separate entities, they actually denote an intrapsychic conflict: two functions feeling equally threatened by the other. If fully integrated, Jupiter with Mars connotes the Holy Warrior, someone willing to fight the good fight, to stand up for the truth. If unintegrated, however, one’s own moral standards (Jupiter) seem to pose a threat to personal survival, freedom, and self-interest. As a consequence, compromise formations develop that involve irrational ideas, projection, and misdirected anger.
Recall that Lubitz graduated from Lufthansa Flight Training School “with flying colors” in 2010. He put in the necessary hours as a flight attendant during an 11-month waiting period, and continued his training by clocking over 600 hours in the air. Then in September 2013 he was hired as first officer for Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa. Only 25 years old, Lubitz was on the fast track to realizing his dream of becoming a captain and long-distance pilot. One might imagine he was flying high when the crisis struck a year later―an accident that sent his life into a tailspin.
In medical astrology, Mars rules the head, brain, and eyes. It also rules cars and accidents. Following the car crash of December 2014, Lubitz sought help from neurologists and psychiatrists for trauma and impaired vision. According to one report, “He stated during medical treatment that, among other things, it often appeared dark around him…some sources suggested he was suffering from a detached retina.” Apparently, Lubitz believed he was losing his sight. This was not an unrealistic fear. Vision loss from retinal detachment can progress from minor to severe and even to blindness. Was this a factor in his decision to commit murder-suicide? German officials suspected that Lubitz “deliberately crashed the plane because he was deeply depressed and was being treated for vision problems that could have ended his flying career.”14
So far, all of this is consistent with Jupiter Aries quincunx Mars Scorpio. But surely there is more to the story. If Jupiter Aries is a runaway train on a steep slope, its quincunx to Mars Scorpio is like plunging into a mining shaft wherein hope for survival becomes vanishingly small. Like the Frank Sinatra song, That’s Life, “You’re riding high in April, shot down in May”. After the accident, Lubitz must have felt that his career hit a wall. He tried to ward off the threat by lying to his doctors and employers. But in doing so he put personal wishes and self-preservation (Mars) ahead of what was right, honest, and true (Jupiter).
Recall Lubitz was in a double-bind. Unless he could cure his afflictions, they would destroy his career; yet, being treated for health issues could destroy his career as well, since a pilot with impaired vision―let alone suicidal ideation―would be immediately grounded. Lubitz knew that eventually he would have to submit to an annual health screening by Germanwings to test his suitability to fly.
When I say that Lubitz went against his own stars by resisting Scorpio’s imperative for transformation, I mean exactly that. The right thing to do would have been to face his fears, disclose to Germanwings the nature of the issues he was battling, and bravely accept any consequences that followed. Take the hit. If he could no longer be a pilot, that in itself would be a death of sorts, a transformation of his status and identity, but one he could endure with sufficient faith that everything happens for a reason. Such an attitude would constitute a healthy, integrated expression of Jupiter quincunx Mars. Instead, Lubitz rejected Jupiter’s moral imperative―that is, his own conscience―by acting in ways that we’re solely in his own self-interest (Mars) and regardless of the risk it posed to the airline and its passengers.
This was a fateful decision, for it virtually guaranteed he would be internally tormented by a guilty conscience. Fear of losing his career was now compounded by the additional fear that his deceit would be uncovered. Even if one’s moral sensibilities cannot for the moment be embraced, they do not go away; rather, they fester in the unconscious, looking for a way out. Often they will show up in dreams. “We’re going down!” he screamed in his sleep. Surely this symbolized a fear that he was about to go down―terminated―for reasons that pertained to his health and character.
Jupiter rules the need for justice, which in Lubitz case must have been extremely strong given the plethora of planets in Sagittarius and their trines to Jupiter. “Justice will prevail” is a phrase that comes to mind. How then did Lubitz feel when, despite his best efforts, life threw him a curve that smashed through his windshield straight into his eyes, brain, and future? My guess is he was enraged by the apparent injustice of it all. I say “apparent injustice” because unless one adopts the long view, which sometimes requires a Herculean leap of faith, life’s exigencies can seem decidedly unjust.
The challenge of Jupiter-quincunx-Mars was compounded by virtue of Moon Scorpio also forming a closing quincunx to Jupiter. The Moon strives to fulfill needs for belonging. Perhaps Moon Scorpio in the 9th was his sense of comradery and closeness with fellow pilots, his airline crew, all together risking the Scorpionic dangers of flight over long distances. Moon is a container, as is the plane itself, which carries passengers and provides caring, food and drink in a cozy, family-like intimacy. Scorpio is the risk that flight entails, with its seatbelts, floatation devices, and drop down oxygen masks. Death is never too far away, as passengers are reminded at the inception of every flight. With Moon quincunx Jupiter, we can surmise that Lubitz was unwilling to give up his airline family in order to comply with the legal injunctions of Germanwings. By hiding health issues from them, he could momentarily preserve his emotional connections, but at the cost of his integrity.
Having aligned with Mars and Moon at the expense of Jupiter, the die was cast. The only outlet for his distressed conscience was to project wrongdoing onto the entity that was his most immediate threat: Germanwings. Through some twisted solipsistic logic, Lubitz must have convinced himself that he was the victim of Germanwings, not vice versa. They were out to destroy his career, steal his life, and dash his dreams. All this when, in fact, he was actually lying to them and, in so doing, endangering their identity/brand as a reputable and safe airline. Such internal contradictions will leak out in the form of anxiety, panic attacks, and morbid feelings of guilt, as if unconsciously the person knows he is behaving badly and will soon be caught.
Again, we can understand this in the context of Jupiter’s quincunx to Mars. Given that Jupiter is quincunx its own dispositor, its natural outlet to Mars is blocked. Jupiter flows to Mars, but Mars rejects the input because Jupiter’s prime directive creates a crisis for Mars; honesty threatens freedom/survival. Left to its own devices, Mars says, “I want to do what I want to do, and I want to fly!” Thus, Mars gives Jupiter the stiff arm. When an archetypal process is blocked, it tends to back up, like gas under pressure. Without an outlet to Mars, yet still inflamed by the red planet (by virtue of the aspect), Jupiter in Aries will intensify into an extreme version of itself. Imagine a natural gas pipeline that hits a sharp curve in which debris has accumulated, thus blocking the flow. Pressure intensifies until there’s a leak, or an explosion―blowback.
Mars and the Moon, in turn, are insufficiently informed by Jupiter precisely because their interests are threatened by Jupiter’s moral imperative. The consequence is a reaction formation: Scorpionic paranoia rooted in the irrational conviction that representatives of Jupiter―for example, legal officials or superiors―are acting in a persecutory way. In other words, the entire conflict is externalized and projected. Lubitz might have concluded that Germanwings’ policies are overly narrow, hurtful and unjust, especially to him; Germanwings is out to get him. Yet, it’s actually his own guilty conscience coming back like a boomerang.
If unintegrated, planets in aspect are still subject to mutual influence, but of a sort that operates in an uncoordinated way. Jupiter, for instance, is still moral but in a manner that has an angry, selfish, sociopathic (Mars) quality―as with a pilot on a mission to punish Germanwings for its persecution of him personally. Likewise, Mars will be assertive but also morally outraged by what appears to be an illegitimate, unwarranted threat to one’s self-interest. In short, Mars quincunx Jupiter entails a mutual exchange of energies that operate in an irrational, unbalanced, dysfunctional manner. So, when Lubitz complained bitterly to his ex-girlfriend about his superiors and the pressures of the job, and when he vowed “One day I’m going to do something that will change the whole system…,” he was externalizing an unresolved, intrapsychic Jupiter-Mars conflict onto Germanwings.
The result of such machinations of soul is what we generally call psychopathology, meaning ‘sickness of soul’. As with virtually all people who suffer from mental illness, there is no one diagnosis or astrological factor that can explain the complexity of Lubitz’s pathology. I have already mentioned that Sun conjunct Saturn can indicate a vulnerability to depression, whereas Sun conjunct Uranus can correlate to a relatively weak, unstable self-image, resistance to change, and compensatory egotism (as when a person identifies with a grand cause for the sake of the self-importance it confers). The extreme, unbalanced expression of Sagittarius-Jupiter is consistent with mania. Sociopathy reflects Aries-Mars, and a destructive variant of Scorpio-Pluto is paranoia.
When all these factors are mixed together in a lethal pressure-cooker of archetypal anguish, you get one Andreas Lubitz. We cannot simply say, therefore, that he was depressed and that’s why he committed murder-suicide. For depressed people, if they kill themselves at all, do not generally take another 149 innocent souls with them. No, it’s much more likely that Lubitz was in a state of dysphoric mania, as evidenced by his internet search for “bi-polar” only days before he flew the Germanwings Airbus A320 into a mountainside.
Given the intrapsychic split symbolized by quincunxes from gloomy Moon-Mars in Scorpio to a hyped-up Jupiter, mania was a likely consequence. Not having an outlet, his Sagittarius-Jupiter energies boiled over into an irrational condemnation of his Germanwings employers. This was likely fueled by the delusion of being an avenging angel, a righteous punisher of wrongdoers. Lubitz was Justice run amok. Simultaneously his Moon-Mars in Scorpio, unable to benefit from Jupiter’s long range, philosophical view, plummeted into a brooding, morbid preoccupation with death and destruction. And this, in turn, led to the final act, the final dispositor, Pluto in Scorpio.
The Jungian analyst, James Hillman, referred to suicide as an “urge for hasty transformation,” by which meant the impulse to resolve an existential crisis through a single, irreversible act of self-annihilation.15 Rather than working through difficulties in the slow, painstaking way that psychological transformation requires, the individual uses death as a way of forcing a premature resolution to a painful impasse.
If ever there was a signature aspect for “hasty transformation” it would be Mars conjunct Pluto in Scorpio. Mars is a psychological accelerant, tending to quicken, embolden, and render more impulsive any planet it aspects. This is especially true with the conjunction. Deriving its meaning from Aries, the conjunction itself is a Mars aspect, thus exacerbating the inflammatory tendencies of Mars with regard to the Plutonic imperative for transformation. Suicide, in effect, is an impulse to transform quickly and decisively. Ideally, however, transformation should be done slowly and mindfully in the context of a deep, trusting relationship.
If integrated, Mars conjunct Pluto in Scorpio confers tremendous courage to face darkness, pain, and fear, strengthening one’s capacity for healing and renewal. If unintegrated, however, the configuration is apt to be repressed and projected, manifesting outwardly as an aggressive, dangerous adversary intent on doing one harm. I suspect that is ultimately how Lubitz saw Germanwings. Believing that death―termination of his identity as a pilot―was imminent by their hand, he could beat fate to the punch by taking matters into his own hands. Passengers and crew were merely collateral damage. Perhaps he rationalized (or fantasized) that the passengers and crew he intended to kill were accessories to a criminal enterprise, and that by destroying the plane he would do to Germanwings what he was convinced they were about to do to him.
It is a basic psychological principle that the thing we most fear compels us to bring it about, in one form or another, for in the doing of that thing we conquer the fear. This is the basis of repetition compulsion, the urge to repeat past traumatic experiences in an effort to gain mastery over them. However, if this is done entirely unconsciously, there is no assurance that the lesson will be learned, nor the benefits reaped. Whatever was in his twisted mind at the moment of impact, one thing is clear: Lubitz was in control. Terrified of termination, he terminated himself, and took Germanwings with him.
Summary and Conclusion
We may never know the complete truth of Andreas Lubitz, for he left no suicide note. And even if he did, it would unlikely reveal the deeper, unconscious motivation for his murder-suicide. The best we can do is use his chart to piece together a series of clues. Clearly he was vulnerable to despair, as revealed by the 2009 record of his depression. However, depression is often a half-truth (or diagnosis), the other side of which is mania. This is consonant with his astrological chart, which shows a preponderance of the Sagittarius-Jupiter archetype, while the depressive side is consistent with the Sun-Saturn conjunction combined with the gloom & doom of his Scorpio planets. Given the nature of his final act, we can presume he was in a state of dysphoric mania, a lethal concoction of rage and despair injected into a grandiose delusion that he had a special mission to punish Germanwings.
What is most striking is how the entire episode of crashing the plane into a mountainside synchronistically reflected Lubitz internal world, as illumined by his birthchart. Manic Sagittarius took him way up to a cruise altitude of 38,000 feet, a soaring state of compensatory happiness that could not be indefinitely sustained. The captain went to the bathroom to eliminate, a Scorpionic act that has a psychological corollary: one must eliminate toxic attitudes or they will poison the mind. He went, Lubitz did not. Upon returning, the captain next became the urgent voice of conscience pleading to be let in. “For God’s sake,” he screamed, “open the door!” But Lubitz successfully shut out his Jupiterian voice of conscience, and was no longer able to do the right thing. Passenger screams reflected the resultant panic attacks that afflicted him, unheeded warnings he was on the wrong track. Like Moon in Scorpio, the plane was a container, now converted by unprocessed pain into a death trap. Usurping the controls was Mars-Pluto. Impatient for transformation―that is, for attaining the power of captainship―young Andreas simply took it. In so doing, however, his fate was sealed. Down he went into the black pit of despair, a mountain crevice that devoured him in a final, deafening crash.
On my kitchen wall is a sign: “Soar. One’s Attitude Determines One’s Altitude.” While it appears to exhort one to stay positive, I also take it to mean that we should flow with life’s ups and downs. For otherwise the downs can be very down, and much longer than is necessary―or, as in Lubitz case, permanent. The Buddha taught that a major part of life is suffering, and once that is fully and deeply accepted, things get easier from there. It is eerily fitting that Lubitz’s final dispositor was Pluto. Being the final dispositor, all roads (or flight plans) lead to Pluto: the transformational imperative. For Lubitz, the path to transformation was a mountainside. But it did not have to be. I do not believe that Lubitz was fated to kill himself, though certainly there were incalculable choices along the way that culminated in the mindless compulsion to destroy 150 lives and shatter the reputation of Germanwings into a million pieces. But that is the key: choices along the way.
Lubitz was mentally ill, to be sure. Was it merely a chemical imbalance, a side effect of medication, the tragic consequence of some unfortunate event for which Lubitz was not responsible? Or were there unintended, long-term consequences to choices he was making along the way? It is not difficult to understand Lubitz’s choice to lie to his doctors and employers in order to protect the life he wanted for himself―to be a pilot. Yet, in doing so, he had to split himself into competing parts. That simple choice to avoid the truth might have led to a cascade of additional problems, such as sleep disturbance, anxiety and panic attacks, unconscious guilt, and the whole host of symptoms for which Lubitz ultimately sought treatment. But the cure he sought was not in a pill, it was in facing and accepting the truth of his situation.
At the risk of oversimplifying, I suspect that if a person keeps making bad choices he eventually reaches a point where he loses his capacity for choice altogether. Then, something else takes over: mindless compulsion. His choices now make him; he no longer makes them. If Lubitz’s story can teach us anything, it’s that Plutonic transformation can take many forms. Had he stayed the course, braving whatever torturous twists and turns his path required; were he able to endure the slings and arrows of life’s outrageous fortune; had he been willing to suffer the death of his career-identity and, instead, make integrity his goal, there is no telling what extraordinary feats Andreas Lubitz might ultimately have accomplished. This is transformation of another sort. As it was, he chose the quick and easy way, a hasty transformation.
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 From the song, “That’s Life,” by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon, on the album That’s Life by Frank Sinatra, 1966
 Deardon, Lizzie, “Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz logged into computer as ‘Skydevil’ to search for suicide methods and information on cockpit doors,” The Independent, Monday, April 6, 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/Germanwings-copilot-andreas-lubitz-logged-into-computer-as-skydevil-to-search-for-suicide-methods-and-information-on-cockpit-doors-10157701.html
 Pearson, Michael, “Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz declared ‘unfit to work,’ officials say,” April 25, 2015, CNN News. http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/27/europe/france-Germanwings-plane-crash-main/index.html
 Faiola, A., and Birnbaum, M., “Co-pilot in jet crash said to have had depression,” March 27, 2015. The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/report-co-pilot-on-doomed-flight-had-psychological-treatments-in-past/2015/03/27/b1818c48-d40b-11e4-8b1e-274d670aa9c9_story.html?wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1
 Paris, Henry Samuel, “Germanwings crash pilot Andreas Lubitz ‘lied to doctors about flying and was prescribed powerful drugs’”, April 2, 2015, The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/Germanwings-plane-crash/11511165/Germanwings-crash-pilot-Andreas-Lubitz-lied-to-doctors-about-flying-and-was-proscribed-powerful-drugs.html
 Saul, Heaher, “Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’s internet history included searches for ‘suicide’ and ‘cockpit doors’, prosecutors say,” April 2, 2015, The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/Germanwings-pilot-andreas-lubitzs-internet-history-included-searches-for-suicide-and-cockpit-doors-prosecutors-say-10152432.html?origin=internalSearch
 There is some uncertainty about the time, but Stephen Watt points to Heather Cameron who has offered the data from the Pilots Forum as 10:31 am.
 Logerot, R., and Millar, Kate, “Alps crash pilot told ex ‘everyone will know my name’, March 28, 2015. AFP News, at: http://news.yahoo.com/Germanwings-crash-co-pilot-hid-illness-airline-050913689.html
 Perry, Glenn (2015). Depth Analysis of the Natal Chart: Advanced Therapeutic Astrology. Haddam Neck, CT: AAP Press
 Logerot, R., and Millar, Kate, Ibid.
 Perry, G. (2012). From Royalty to Revolution: The Sun-Uranus Relationship. Haddam Neck, CT: AAP Press
 Another mass murderer with Sun conjunct Saturn and Uranus (in Gemini) was the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, who used the mail system (Gemini) to send bombs to various people for the sake of halting the spread of technology, which, in his mind, was a threat to the future of the human race.
 Paris, Henry Samuel, Ibid.
 Patterson, Tony, “Germanwings crash: ‘Andreas Lubitz planned to marry pregnant girlfriend’, claims German report,” March 29, 2015. The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/Germanwings-crash-lubitz-planned-to-marry-pregnant-girlfriend-claims-german-report-10142398.html
 Hillman, J. (1997). Suicide and the soul (2nd Ed.). Dallas, TX: Spring Publications, p. 73