Bernard Boursicot was a French minor administrator who had an affair in China that was so romantic and so strange that it gave birth to the sensational New York play, M Butterfly. The play won a Tony award and was later made into a film starring British actor Jeremy Irons. It told the story of a great love affair between the young accountant at the French Embassy in Peking and his Chinese mistress, Shi Peipu. They even parented a child whom they raised, before the strange truth came out, that Shi Peipu was not a woman but a male singer and actor, versed in playing both male and female roles.
Shi Peipu was delicate and small in stature, with small hands and no facial hair, and the Chinese women often were small busted. He taped his genitals close to his body and during love-making kept his legs closed and oiled so that the comparatively inexperienced Boursicot believed he was making sexual entry. Shi assumed a modest stance and never allowed Boursicot to see him nude or fondle him. Shi claimed to be pregnant and was able to use a baby, named Shi Du Du, who had been bought from a doctor. Their affair lasted sexually no more than a few months but they loved each other for 19 years, and both bonded with close attachments to the child, for whom they shared custody.
Boursicot began a homosexual affair in with Thierry Toulet, a long-term committed relationship. When he returned to Asia in Shi was more like an ex-wife for whom he still cared as the mother of his beloved child.
Boursicot has stated that he began passing documents to Shi when the Chinese Cultural Revolution made it difficult for him to see her. He was approached by a member of the Chinese secret service who offered him access to Shi in exchange for his passing documents. He believed Shi’s safety was at risk if he failed to participate.
Boursicot was finally able to arrange for his family to move to Paris but within months of Shi Peipu’s arrival, French agents arrested them both, charging them with espionage. Boursicot was questioned by authorities and confessed to having passed at least 150 classified documents to Shi.
During the trial, the prosecution revealed Shi’s real sex to Boursicot. They were convicted of spying against the French government and sentenced to six years in prison.
This was an extraordinary story, no wonder it was made into a successful film. What would astrology have to say about such a series of events ? The birthchart of Bernard Boursicot is very revealing.
The Capricorn Research Project of over 20,000 has public figures has proved that they are far more likely to have an emphasis on the Eastern or left hand side of the chart because this allows their own individual themes to dominate their life. The right hand side, particularly the 7th house is the area of one to one relationships. People with strong 7th house emphasis have the major themes of their lives governed by the patterns of their relationships. This is certainly true for Bernard Boursicot who became famous because of a relationship.
Boursicot has no planets at all in the eastern side of the chart and the focus is very much on the 7th house with two conjunctions, one between the Sun and Pluto and the other between Venus and Jupiter.
The Sun, Venus and Jupiter in the 7th house would show a romantic love story, particularly considering the closeness of the conjunction between Venus and Jupiter. The sign that it occurs in is the rather reserved Virgo which may account for both the inexperience of Boursicot and the modest role that Shi played during their encounters.
The Sun’s conjunction with Pluto, however suggests an intensity in the relationship but also points to a sudden transformation within it. Pluto often has the effect of an atomic explosion turning everything upside down. A Sun / Pluto conjunction in the 7th house could easily indicate a change in sexuality which certainly did happen to Boursicot or even a sex change itself. Its reasonable to conceive this symbol as having an affair with someone who’s role would change dramatically.
The astrological houses have a split rulership over relationships. The 7th house rules the longer term and is generally thought of as the house of marriage. Short term affairs are considered to be the province of the 5th house. Boursicot’s relationship with Shi belonged to both houses.
Its very interesting that Boursicot’s Moon is in conjunction with Uranus on the cusp of the 5th house. The Moon is in Gemini a sign that is always associated with a lightness of touch and a tendency to flit from one experience to another. Gemini has often been linked with a butterfly mind so what better symbol for the Moon ( which rules the female ) in Gemini than Madame Butterfly. The Moon is closely conjunct the rebellious Uranus a planet that has always been associated with change and the breaking up of conventional views and attitudes.
The Moon in Gemini in the 5th conjunct Uranus changes Boursicot’s affair with a Madame Butterfly figure to a questionable and mysterious M. Butterfly, appropriately the title of the play and film.
With the Sun conjunct Pluto in the 7th and the Moon conjunct Uranus on the 5th house cusp we can safely say that Boursicot’s affairs of the heart will be unconventional and full of change and he is likely to attract partners who go through profound changes themselves.
The other house that has something to say about relationships is the 8th which through its Scorpio connections has a symbolic connection with sex. The Moon / Uranus conjunction is in square aspect to a Mercury / Mars conjunction in the 8th house, so the sex change theme is reinforced. Mercury and Mars are also in Virgo which adds to the reserve and even the simple purity of the relationship between Boursicot and Shi.
Neptune is also in the 8th house adding a level of both mystery and confusion around sexual activity.
The whole spying development is intriguing. Obviously Boursicot did not set out to be a spy but circumstances drew him into passing documents to the Chinese. There is a strong 7th / 8th connection in the charts of double agents Anthony Blunt and George Blake. The 8th house and sign, Scorpio can often create a character who has a secret life and is certainly not what they seem on the surface. The 7th house and sign, Libra can show someone who has to tread a careful balancing act in life, keeping two opposing forces in check.
Boursicot’s Mars and Mercury in the 8th would suggest the passing of military ( Mars ) documents ( Mercury ) in secrecy ( 8th ) and their square aspect to the Moon / Uranus in Gemini in the 5th house ( M. Butterfly ) would show the reason for it.
The timing of this bizarre love story is another perfect example of Pluto’s transits. When Pluto is in conjunction with the Sun in a chart its transits become even more potent than would otherwise be the case. The transits of Uranus would also be very potent due to the closeness of its natal conjunction with the Moon but also due to a major conjunction that Pluto and Uranus had during the mid sixties.
The period from 1963 – 66 was the most significant watershed for Boursicot as Pluto transited the Moon / Uranus / Mercury / Mars pattern. Pluto’s first appearance was in square to Boursicot’s Moon / Uranus conjunction in 1963 – 4. In 1963, he had his first sexual experience in Morocco, with a prostitute and he met and began his affair with Shi just before the end of 1964.
Boursicot left Shi to go travelling in the Amazon for several years in 1965 when Pluto was conjunct his Mercury ( travel ).
Pluto was conjunct Mars when Shi adopted a child in early 1966 and told Boursicot that the boy was their son.
In the kind of extraordinary way that Astrology has of reinforcing a particular transit, the whole period from 1963 – 66 saw Uranus in exactly the same position as Pluto in square to Boursicot’s Moon and conjunct his Mercury / Mars. This double transit has a profoundly powerful impact.
Astrology is a very straightforward and simple subject. We often find it difficult to comprehend because our heads are so full of other irrelevant rubbish. Sometimes Astrology’s way round our ignorance is to make something so indisputably obvious that we surely have to see it so just in case we didn’t spot Pluto, Uranus was there as well.
Boursicot and Shi did not see each other for many years but the next developments began to occur in 1979 – 80 when Pluto was conjunct Boursicot’s Ascendant. He was finally able to arrange for his family to move to Paris, in 1979.
At this point Pluto had done its work and it was time for Uranus to take over on its own. In 1983 – 84, Uranus renewed its relationship with the Moon, this time by opposition. In 1983, Boursicot and Shi were arrested for spying for China. Boursicot was sent to prison in July 1984 where he served a term of 49 months, Shi Peipu served 19 months due to poor health, undergoing heart surgery.
The last significant transit was in 1993 when Uranus was conjunct Boursicot’s Ascendant. The Ascendant rules a person’s image and appearance, Uranus rules both change and the media. The film was released in 1993 bringing the story to a global audience and obviously creating a major change in the way Bernard Boursicot was seen.
The whole story is in equal measure bizarre, tragic and touching. It is beautifully captured by both the play and the film which is so aptly called M. Butterfly, the personification of the Moon conjunct Uranus in Gemini in the 5th house.