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Asteroid Sleuth: The Case of the Murderous Mushroom

On Saturday, 29 July 2023, Erin Patterson of Leongatha, Victoria, Australia, invited her estranged husband Simon, his parents Don and Gail, and his mother’s sister Heather and her husband Ian Wilkinson, a local minister, to lunch, sending her two children to the movies.  The purpose of the gathering was to try to work through the differences that had separated the couple, with a view to their reconciliation.  Simon backed out of the luncheon at the last minute, but the four elders attended, with Reverend Wilkinson attempting to counsel Erin in his absence. 

Erin Patterson served a Beef Wellington pie with mushrooms; her children ate some of the leftovers the following day, but with the mushrooms scraped off.  Within a few days, all four guests had been admitted to hospital with suspected food poisoning, caused by possible ingestion of Death Cap mushrooms, a deadly fungus.  Patterson’s in-laws and Heather Wilkinson died, Reverend Wilkinson remains in a coma in intensive care, needing a liver transplant.  Police view Patterson, an avid mushroom forager with several volumes on identifying fungus in her home library, as a person of interest in the case.

mushrooms erin
Erin Patterson, suspected of poisoning four guests at her home; asteroid Erin conjoins Mars, traditional ruler of murder and asteroid Ammannito, for the deadly amanita phalloides mushroom that was used, also squared asteroid Poisson, for “poison”

The Asteroid Sleuth turned his jaundiced eye to the case, with a view to determining just what occurred.  Murder suspect Erin Patterson, 48, is represented by asteroids Erin 2167 and Patterson 2511; victims Gail and Don Patterson, both 70, are seen as asteroids Gaily 14092 and Gailcowell 2538 (a CNA, or Compound-Name Asteroid, which is composed of first and last names strung together as one word, which can be separated and use for either), asteroid Donn 4689, and of course asteroid Patterson as well.  Victims Heather Wilkinson, 66, and Ian Wilkinson, 68, are represented by asteroid Heather 3922, Wilkens 1688 and Wilkerson 16797, surnames similar to Wilkinson, for which there is no exact match.  Husband Simon is represented by asteroid Simona 1033, a feminine equivalent, as well as asteroid Patterson; the Victoria Police Detective Inspector heading the investigation is Dean Thomas, seen as asteroids Dean 333089 and Thomas 2555.

The suspected poisonous mushrooms can be seen in asteroid Musharahman 34261, closest to “mushroom”; asteroid Champigneulles 18634, closest match for French “champignon”, meaning mushroom; and asteroid Poisson 12874, “poison” with an extra “s.”  The botanical name for the Death Cap mushroom is amanita phalloides, with asteroid Ammannito 39678 the closest match.

mushrooms death cap
The Death Cap mushroom, a fatal ingredient on the menu; a focus on mushrooms for the day is seen in the Sun’s conjunction with asteroid Champignuelles (closest to champignon, French for “mushroom”) and square to asteroid Musharahman (closest phonetically to “mushroom”)

To begin, a conjunction of the Sun at 6 Leo with asteroid Champignuelles at 1 Leo, in square to asteroid Musharahman at 1 Scorpio, places a strong focus (Sun) on mushrooms for the timeframe.  A forming square from the Sun to Jupiter at 13 Taurus suggests going to extremes, something excessive.  The Sun is past its opposition to Pluto, modern lord of death and planetary ruler of homicide, at 28 Capricorn, but still within orb.  Pluto does, however, closely aspect Champignuelles and Musharahman, making fungus a likely murder weapon.

Asteroid Erin at 14 Virgo conjoins Mars at 11 Virgo, ruler of violent death and traditional ruler of murder, and asteroid Ammannito at 7 Virgo, representing the amanita phalloides mushroom, the weapon (also Mars) of choice.  Erin widely squares asteroid Patterson at 5 Gemini, which stands in for four persons in this story, as well as asteroid Poisson (“poison”) at 22 Gemini (these are not, however, conjunct each other).  Patterson’s placement identifies much of the facts of the case, in a Grand Cross with Ammannito, opposing asteroid Requiem 2254, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 6 Sagittarius and also exactly squaring Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 5 Pisces.  With Saturn is Damocles at 1 Pisces, the doom hanging unseen overhead, about to descend at any minute, and asteroid Karma 3811, the vagaries of Fate, at 13 Pisces.  Requiem is powerful at its station, having turned direct just six days prior.

mushrooms pattersons
Don and Gail Patterson, Erin’s in-laws, were among the victims; asteroid Patterson in a Grand Cross with Saturn (ancient lord of death), Damocles (doom hanging overhead), asteroid Requiem (funeral mass for the dead) and asteroid Ammannito (for the amanita phalloides mushroom), tells the tale of their deaths by poison

Erin is also widely conjunct asteroid Gailcowell at 22 Virgo, for mother-in-law Gail, which exactly squares Poisson; and opposes asteroid Wilkerson at 20 Pisces, for Heather and Ian Wilkinson, for a T-Square combining elements of poisoning with the suspected poisoner and three of her alleged victims.  Not in aspect to Erin, but joining the T-Square with connections to the other three asteroids, is Neptune at 27 Pisces, planetary ruler of toxins and poisons. 

Gail Patterson is also represented by asteroid Gaily, which at 22 Scorpio is exactly conjunct asteroid Anubis 1912, named for the ancient Egyptian deity governing funeral rites.  This pair exactly opposes Uranus at 22 Taurus, ruling sudden, unexpected and shocking acts, but also accidents, if somehow the deadly fungus was introduced into the pie by mistake.  Also opposed is asteroid Atropos 273 at 18 Taurus, named for the mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death.   Another T-Square is formed with asteroid Heather at 19 Leo, representing Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson, also a victim of the poisoning.

mushrooms wilkinsons
Heather and Ian Wilkinson, Erin’s aunt- and uncle-in-law, were also present; Heather died, Ian remains in a coma, in need of a liver transplant. Asteroid Heather is at the fulcrum of a T-Square with asteroids Anubis (Egyptian deity governing funerary rites) and Atropos (Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death); asteroid Wilkerson (closest to Wilkinson) conjoins Neptune (ruling poisons), squared asteroid Poisson (also for poison), in a T-Square with asteroid Cook, representing Erin Patterson’s role in preparing the deadly meal

Gail’s husband Don is seen as asteroid Donn, which at 19 Libra broadly squares Pluto and widely conjoins asteroids Rip 7711 (“RIP”) and Osiris 1923 (Egyptian god of the dead), at 10 and 12 Libra respectively.  Donn also exactly opposes centaur Chiron 20260 at 19 Aries.  Chiron has a mythic connection to poisoning, having been shot accidentally by one of Heracles’ poisoned arrows, creating an incurable wound.  The Wilkinsons are further represented by asteroid Wilkins at 2 Libra, exactly squared to TNO Ixion 28978 at 2 Capricorn, named for the first murderer in Greek myth, in a T-Square with asteroid Nemesis 128 at 3 Cancer, bringer of ruin and destruction.   Reverend Wilkinson’s position as a Baptist minister can be seen in asteroid Baptistina 298, which at 29 Aries conjoins asteroid Lachesis 120, named for the Fate who determines the span of life, and closely squares Pluto.

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Estranged husband Simon Patterson backed out of the reconciliation luncheon at the last minute, perhaps prompted by asteroid Simona’s (feminine version of Simon) square to asteroid NOT (a general disqualifier or symbol of refusal to proceed), inclining him to an uncooperative stance; Simona opposed asteroids Rip (“RIP”) and Osiris (Egyptian god of the dead) show his close call with death

What of Simon Patterson, the estranged husband who did not attend the lunch as planned?  Asteroid Simona at 13 Aries may hold the clue to his salvation; in square to asteroid NOT 2857 at 17 Cancer, a general disqualifier or symbol of a refusal to proceed, he may have been in a noncooperative mood.  Simona’s opposition to the Rip/Osiris pairing in Libra reflects his close connection to the theme of death, losing both parents and a maternal aunt in one stroke, as well as symbolizing his vulnerability to mortality in that moment.

Detective Inspector Dean Thomas is in the thick of it, with asteroid Dean at 20 Leo conjunct Heather and squared Gaily, two of the victims whose deaths he is investigating; and asteroid Thomas at 11 Sagittarius, also at station (turning retrograde July 31st, two days after the incident), from where it conjoins Requiem and squares Erin (indicating conflict between them), joining the Grand Cross of Ammanito/Mars/Patterson/Saturn/Karma.

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Victoria Detective Inspector Dean Thomas is the lead investigator on the case; asteroid Dean conjoins asteroids Victoria and Heather, T-squared asteroids Gaily (for Gail Patterson), Anubis and Atropos; asteroid Thomas is at station, conjunct asteroid Requiem and squared asteroid Erin

There are no asteroids suitable to the Leongatha location, but asteroid Victoria 12 stands in for the state of Victoria; at 16 Leo it conjoins Heather and Dean, joining that T-Square.  Asteroid Australia 8088 appears at 20 Virgo, with Erin/Gailcowell, opposing Wilkerson and T-Squared Poisson.  Asteroid Cook 3061, indicating Erin Patterson’s role in the tragedy, falls at 29 Virgo, opposing poisoner Neptune at 27 Pisces and trine murderous Pluto at 28 Capricorn, also squaring Poisson and in an out-of-Sign square to TNO Ixion at 2 Capricorn, showing possible murderous intent.

Given the Uranus influence, this could be a case of accidental poisoning, but the supporting factors in the circumstances, terrestrial and celestial, argue more strongly for intentional murder.  As such, it’s not looking good for Erin Patterson.

Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

One comment, add yours.


Hi Alex! I think you deserve the title of ‘Asteroid Sleuth’! I love that you are tackling some of these bizarre, truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories. Loved the asteroid connections you dug up, no pun intended. It will be interesting to see if Erin Patterson is charged or arrested. Thanks for an interesting piece!

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