Astro-Notes on the Stars of Vincent Van Gogh
“La tristesse durera toujours.” – Vincent van Gogh
A few years back, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a feature on certain questions surrounding the death of Vincent van Gogh asking, did the painter commit suicide as is typically promoted? Did teen-aged boys with a “malfunctioning gun” wound him the afternoon of July 27, 1890—-boys he may have gone drinking with?
Was someone else in the wheat fields that day he left the Inn after breakfast ostensibly to paint?
No matter how it happened, van Gogh passed away from his wound at about 1:00 am LMT according to contemporary accounts (with 1:30 am listed on his death certificate) on July 29, 1890 in his room at Auvers sur Oise, France with brother Theo among those at his bedside. The horoscope I’m posting here is set for that date and place at 1:19 am LMT because a YOD pattern formed at that time, a planetary pattern which has a health implication along with its ‘crossroads’ and ‘turning point’ connotations. The transiting Moon @25Sag53 (or, ‘death Moon’, tragically) had just set at 1:19 am along with the Lunar South Node, a Saturnian point of separation. As you know, the Moon is a significator for the physical body, among other things, and as such relates to health matters on both the physical and psychological levels.
Ebertin gives the Moon-MC duo as “collapse” and as you see in the horoscope, their sextile forms the base of the YOD pointing toward Chiron, the wound and the wounded, in Cancer, ruled by the Moon. Transiting Chiron has crossed Vincent’s natal Ascendant recently and remains within orb; Cancer rules the breast and chest area where the bullet pierced his body and a turning point (YOD) has occurred.
Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 with natal Moon @20Sag55 conjoining South Node (SN @22Sag28 Stationary) and Jupiter (24:16) and his last Lunar Return took place on July 28 while he was in bed and fading away toward death. A Moon-Jupiter conjunction tends to provide a good reputation yet Moon-SN has ‘bad timing, emotional isolation, and lack of cooperation from others’ implications of a karmic nature; Jupiter-SN denotes more ‘bad timing’ issues which blocked or restricted his endeavors along with ‘conflicts of interests’; Van Gogh’s ethical and religious aims may have clashed with prevailing social trends.
This period of time included a Nodal Return for him, a 19-year cycle when new associations may begin and fate is encountered; his death NN arises in the 1:19 am horoscope, as you see below. “PE” rising denotes the influencing Solar Eclipse which occurred on June 17, 1890 in the 19 North Saros Series with themes of: realism; coming down to earth; seeing things as they are rather than as they had seemed; tackling the truth (paraphrasing Brady’s Predictive Astrology.)
Sadly, ‘coming down to earth’ may refer to multiple things in van Gogh’s case such as sinking to the ground after a gunshot–self-inflicted, misdirected, or accidental–and to his burial on July 30, 1890. His long term depressive condition may also be implicated along with his recent stay in the gloomy environment of an asylum (St. Pol—like Pollux!), then on to Auvers where he is said to have completed 70 canvases in 70 days! Health wise, epilepsy plagued him as indicated in the natal chart by a particular midpoint picture: Uranus-Neptune = Sun (vitality): epilepsy and possibly migraines as well. (Ebertin.) Other natal chart factors also indicate neurological problems, disturbing dreams, plus, an inferiority complex, a fluctuating lack of incentive to work, a quarreling nature, and a weak will to live.
The Death of Vincent Van Gogh
July 29, 1890 1:19 am LMT Auvers sur Oise, France; Hour of an unaspected Venus (in 4th house and in Virgo, sign of the bowels and The Virgin); asteroid Aesculapia, a health/healer archetype, rises with the North Node (encounters; destiny) and the prior Solar Eclipse (PE), as noted above, making its themes of immediate importance; Moon is angular.
Warrior Mars, fiery planet of guns, bullets, sharp instruments and those who wield them, is posited @1Sag49 in the 6th house of Health, Work, Daily Rounds, and Service including the military. Curiously, the degree of Mars at ‘1 Sag’ in the Sabian Symbols = “A Grand Army of the Republic Campfire” which I assume has nothing to do with the identity of the shooter–van Gogh himself or another–but one wonders.
‘Misdirected energy’ is found in the horoscope (ex: T-Square with Mars-Neptune pointing toward Saturn) with the Mars-Neptune opposition showing potential for deceptive actions, confused motivations, possibly fraud, and weakened efforts. Some sources mention the teen aged boys as noted above having a ‘misfiring gun’. Would a man wishing to commit suicide shoot himself between stomach and heart as van Gogh’s wound is described by those present at his deathbed? A painter familiar with human anatomy?
Well, if he did shoot himself, there is a Kite configuration (if the Nodal axis is allowed) indicating success with the Moon as nose and NN/ASC as the tail. Separation (SN) from the physical body (Moon) was achieved yet a less painful method than a lingering death would surely have been preferred. Besides, did he take a gun with him that morning as he set out for the wheat fields for a day of painting? So far, I’ve found no mention of such planning on van Gogh’s part.
As for the boys who may have been involved, the wounded van Gogh is reported to have stated, “Do not accuse anyone…it is I who wanted to kill myself” though in his letters he had referred to the act of suicide as “sinful” and “immoral” (as it is) and was known to be concerned with his spiritual condition and ultimate destination. If the shooting was accidental he may have wanted to spare someone the blame, make his death matters easier for his family, and gain positive karmic progress simultaneously.
And yes, van Gogh’s occult interests are also known and he left behind a number of books on metaphysical topics.
Violence, Murder, Suicide
Other chart indicators point toward suicide and/or murder but with no definite conclusion: his natal Mars @26Pis08 (conjunct natal MC, the Aspiration-Career Point–in creative Pisces) conjoins Fixed Star, Scheat which can bring extreme misfortune, murder, or suicide (Robson) when linked to malevolent planets as here–conjunct quarreling Mars.
Plus, star Pollux rising in his natal chart denotes potentials for brutality, violence, cruelty, the occult, being deceived by others, and fate playing cruel tricks upon him. The archetype associated with shadowy Pollux is sometimes “the wicked boy” though of course there is the added benefit of brilliant Castor-Pollux creativity where the polarities of good vs evil and light vs dark are blended and overlapped into pleasing patterns (his painting) with undercurrents of angst and pain. (Brady; Louis; Ebertin-Hoffmann.)
Four stars are linked to van Gogh’s natal planets by paran:
1. Deneb Adige in Cynus, The Swan relates to the strength and hostility of the swan and to mysticism, transcendentalism, and the World Egg. The star was at Nadir (midnight) when his Mercury set so it expresses at the end of his life and after death. His style of rapid brushstrokes and unusual color techniques show how he thought and communicated (Mercury) and received recognition after death;
2. Ras Alhague, a star of healing, wounding, teaching, and creating balance, is linked to his Sun which culminated (the prime of his life and career) as Ras Alhague set; Rigor says it provides “tremendous visualization ability” which is excellent for an artist though negative indicators can also be involved with this star.
3. Bellatrix in the left shoulder of Orion is partner to Betelgeuse (right shoulder), a star that promises success. Bellatrix provides success as well but with a shadow and a price involved: achievement requires dealing with the dark components of the psyche; personal weaknesses are exposed making the pathway to success difficult. Bellatrix is linked to van Gogh’s natal Mars at Nadir as the star set. Add this Martian indicator to his Mars-Scheat potential noted above and we see a dark and tragic life’s journey ending with (probable) suicide;
4. Acumen, a nebula star with Aculeus, both linked to the concept of blindness whether physical, mental, and/or spiritual. Was he color blind? Acumen implies the negative shadow side of the starry duo and brings attacks which weaken and damage. This star adds more of the light vs dark theme to van Gogh’s life and indicates problems with gossip that destroys the reputation. However, lashing out in anger–like a stinging scorpion–is inadvisable since it may result in self-destruction.
Dealing with issues such as personal weaknesses and other problems “in the clear light of day” (ex: painting wheat fields!) is imperative for lessening the negative potentials of Acumen which links to his Moon-SN-Jupiter conjunction of bad timing, separations, and grief. But unfortunately, van Gogh’s natal Mercury-Pluto conjunction of deep thinking includes a tendency toward lashing out with cruel words that leave lasting damage to its recipients and to his relationships with them.
Impaired Vitality and a Life of Melancholy
Vincent's brother Theo van Gogh, a Paris art dealer who supported Vincent financially and emotionally, had been experiencing career disagreements with his employer and was considering starting his own company. By July 1890 this may have contributed to Vincent’s increased anxiety during his final days during which Theo attested to Vincent’s weak will to live: “He himself wanted to die.” Does such a desire prove that the shot that day was self-inflicted? Or did Vincent simply realize that the unremovable bullet was an opportunity to escape his earthly suffering?
His “La tristesse durera toujours” translates as, “The sadness will last forever,” and with this observation, when considering his difficult life fighting inner demons with lessening strength and his remarkable genius cut short, many art lovers would agree that Vincent van Gogh was correct.
And as friend and death bed attendant, Dr. Gachet, eulogized at van Gogh’s funeral, “He was an honest man…and a great artist. He had only two goals, humanity and art.”
Vincent van Gogh R.I.P.