VINCENT VAN GOGH
“My dear Theo
Thanks for your letter, I was glad to hear that you got back safely
I missed you the first few days
and it was strange for me not to find you when I came home in the afternoon….”
Vincent van Gogh was an ardent and prolific letter writer.
The Moon’s next application is to Jupiter and then transfer its light to Mercury the natural significator of communication, amplifying and activating the latter. These letters, written in four different languages, were abundant and brought to light by being published, Mercury is placed in the 10th house in Aries and its Lord, Mars is in the fertile sign of Pisces in the 9th house of publication, on the Midheaven (the highest point in the horizon that any planet can reach, which speaks to the professional path and public persona) the total surviving correspondence features 902 letters and by far the most letters are to his younger brother Theo, Mercury is also the the lord of the 3rd house of brothers and sisters.
These letters are a window to Vincent universe:
Finance & Ideology
Theo didn’t provide only emotional support he also gave financial support. Mercury lord of the 3rd House signifying brother gets a superior trine by degree from the benefic of sect in favor, generous Jupiter, and is co-present with an exalted Sun in charge of Vincent’s finances- by mean of being lord of the second house.
But then, why was he so poor with an exalted Sun lord of the second house trining Jupiter?
The Sun is also in a contra-antiscia (secret opposition) with Mars the malefic out of sect.Adding some nuances, Mars is enclosed by the benefics, ruler and exaltation ruler of Pisces, offering mitigation to a dreadful situation and making the planet somehow less destructive and more productive. He had “just enough” to live. But more accurately his poverty was self inflicted, he would give his belonging away or use it entirely for his work material.
“When I receive money, even if I've fasted, isn't for food,
but is even stronger for painting [...] meanwhile the lifeline I cling to is my breakfast with the people where I live, and a cup of coffee and bread in the cremerie in the evening...”
As Gaugin recollected Van Gogh had sold the painting to a dealer and gave away the money immediately afterwards to a poor young woman in the street.
Throughout his adulthood he had an interest for serving the less fortunate. Where would we see that?
Let’s look at the 6th House since this is there we might find self-sacrifice and an interest for social justice. The 6th House is the rejoicing place of Mars, the military patron and guardian of soldiers and farmers. And there, we find Jupiter in his own domicile co present with the lord of the first House (of self), squaring by degree the Midheaven meaning that regards for fighters and peasants is an integral part of his being and would be part of his carer path too.
"He who lives uprightly and experiences true difficulty and disappointment and
is nonetheless undefeated by it, is worth more than
someone who prospers and knows nothing but relative good fortune’.
The Potato Eaters
Vincent had an exalted lord of 4th House of family and ancestry which made him very well connected and gave him access to influential people. But Van Gogh seemed to emotionally identify with the lower class and had an appreciation for a simpler lifestyle as we saw previously. Saturn patron of agriculture is placed in the earth sign of Taurus and is in the 11th House of community and friendship.
We shall examine his artistic vocation and religious path in a minute, but for now, lets concentrate on at his health since we are looking at the 6th House. He had severe depression and mental health issue, psychotic episodes and delusions through out his life, he often neglected his physical health too, did not eat properly and drank heavily.
The Moon speaks for his body and mind, placed in the 6th House of sufferings, injuries, servitude and just plain old bad luck, her application within three degree to the South Node adds an inclination to escapism, detachment, alcohol & drug use, furthermore with Jupiter in the mix, these meanings are amplified leading to madness and self-sabotage. He even mutilated his ear, the South Node tend to reduce what it touches in this instance part of the body (the Moon) and he terminated his own life by shooting himself in the belly. Moon-South Node placement point out also a strong spiritual inclination
Café Table with Absinthe
As a young man, he took up a post as a missionary in the working class coal mining district. To show his support he gave up his comfortable lodgings at a bakery to a homeless person, moved to a hut near by the workers and slept on straw. The church dismissed him for “undermining the dignity of the priesthood”.
He also prepared for the University of Amsterdam’s theology entrance examination and he failed the exam. He undertook, but also failed, a three-month course at a missionary school. Mars the malefic contrary to sect in favour is placed in the 9th House of religion and higher education, disabling Vincent from adhering & belonging to any religious institutions.
Nevertheless, excluded from public ministry, Vincent retained his deep faith. He later thought that instead of being born out of doctrine, faith should not be taught, but that it was based on human feelings. Ultimately he came to see nature and human history symbolising “God”.
“One cannot do better, than hold onto the thought of God through everything,
under all circumstances, at all places, at all times, and try to acquire more
knowledge about Him, which one can do from the Bible as well as from all
Art & Love
At 27 years old when a Pastoral career was definitely closed off, Vincent began drawing and his subjects was those he tried to help as a pastor, the poor and the less fortunate. His Midheaven in Pisces, the sign of spirituality, transcendence and mysticism doubles up the meaning of Jupiter and the Moon with the South Node. Exalted Venus patroness of the Arts in conjunction with the Midheaven, announces Vincent’s fate to become an artist. But not any artist! An artist working with paints and wisdom to glorify divinity by honouring nature and his comrades in struggle. Work becomes prayer and a holy expression of divine Love accessible for everyone. One might work the soil, the other might work with paints.
“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people”
Venus would also point to what we find attractive in a partner, Van Gogh commented that he preferred to paint women in blue denim rather than in refined dresses.
He had a relationship with a homeless pregnant prostitute, Sien. This relationship encountered great opposition from his upper-middle class relatives:
“Well, gentlemen I tell you- you who set great store in manners and culture, and rightly so, provided it’s the real thing- what is more cultured, more sensitive and more manly: to forsake a woman or to take a forsaken one? […] for my part, I can only marry once, and when would be a better time to do it than with her, because only by doing so, I can continue to help her”
Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove
But Vincent never married, Venus in his chart conjuncts severing Mars terminating any prospect of “for ever after” probably by initiating an unbearable intensity to his relationships.
A great example of that intensity would be when he cut his own ear off after a furious row with Gaugin over, what appear, a girl from the brothel. At the time in Arles, in south of France, after a bull fight in the arena, the defeated bull would have his ear cut off and given as trophy to the matador. In this case he gave his ear to Rachel the prostitute.
Could he have had a homosexual relationship with Gaugin? Possibly. Homosexuality at the time was a punishable crime by law. We already mentioned the Contra-Antiscia at the beginning between Mars, the planet of desire, action, and energy, which can shed light onto our sexuality, and the Sun, the natural significator of government and authority.
Venus is also about to change dignity dramatically in his chart from exaltation to debility. Venus in Aries is independent, assertive and out of her comfort zone (I often think of this placement neighbouring Venus-Uranus and/or Venus-Pluto), perhaps Vincent relationship reflects this placement, but we can also find it in his Art.
Let’s examine “The Night Café”, which Van Gogh defined as: “The Ugliest I’ve done.”
His calling of the painting “ugly” could be a description of the room and the feeling you get from it. In his description he uses words like “blood-red” to describe the colour on the walls, “battle” to describe the contrast of reds and greens and refers to those in the room as “ruffians”.
Venus conjunction with the planet of war: Mars, transforms the painting of a local a café into a battle field!
Unlike typical impressionist works, Van Gogh used impulsive brushwork and infused his work with his emotions, typical of what was later called Expressionism. An other expression of Venus-Mars: painting ahead of his time.
He also commented:
“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”
“In the blue depth the stars were sparkling, greenish, yellow, white, pink, more brilliant, more emeralds, lapis lazuli, rubies, sapphires.”
Starry Night over the Rhone
How could he say that? with a day chart and an exalted Sun so high in the sky.
I have discussed this with my fellow astrologers from Astrum Opus and we discussed that, by means of the Moon squaring the Midheaven by degree, she is being lifted and transported to the highest point in the sky enabling her to manifest her meanings more prominently than any other planets even in an angle. Furthermore, the Moon’s alliance with the South Node, would signal Vincent’s inclination to appreciate obscurity, mysteries, vagueness. Similarly, he compared himself with the protagonists from the scene in “The Night Café” that he imagined as being travellers without a native land. The Moon and South Node conjunction grants him an ethereal and alienation disposition.
He said that “The Night Café” is: "the equivalent, though different, of ‘The Potato Eaters."
They do resemble one another somewhat in their use of lamplight and for the sorrowful & other worldly condition of the protagonists, one likens to skeletons and the other to ghosts.
Besides being a prolific correspondent, Van Gogh was a prolific artist too, from the age of 27 up until 37 when he died, he produced more than 900 paintings and many more drawings and sketches, which works out at nearly one artworks every 36 hours. But he was poor all his life even if his paintings are now selling for a fortune. In large part thanks to his sister in law, Johana, who made Vincent’s work known.
Where would we see this in his chart?