‘Now I think I know what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they’re not listening still.
Perhaps they never will…’ (Vincent – by Don McClean)
‘I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.’ – Vincent van Gogh
If only those who give the label of insanity, had instead an understanding of astrology, they would use a different term. There are some energies that do not function well within this realm, yet are sent here for a reason. And in the Time that transpires, they experience suffering. Certainly, the modus operandi within their mental faculty is not ‘normal’. But, neither is genius. Van Gogh admitted himself to an asylum. But, was this due to a lack of a point of reference within the physical realm with which he could closely relate? And if he had a clearer understanding of the forces at play within him, driving the otherworldly pace of his creative genius, might he had been less prone to self-judgement?
Piscean energy has less of a foothold within the material plane than it does within the realm of Spirit, Inspiration and Imagination. Although a Sun Sign Aries with a Cancer Ascendant, Vincent had powerful Piscean influence in the form of three planets in Pisces. Mars conjuncts Venus in this sign, and this aspect was defining of van Gogh’s astrology and the suffering he experienced due to his creative genius. But, in addition, he had the influence of Neptune, the modern day ruler of Pisces, in its own sign. Neptune spends approximately 15 years in a sign, so there were many from Vincent’s day that would have had this influence, but there was only one Vincent van Gogh. Neptune is currently revisiting Pisces, so van Gogh’s soul has a special message for us.
Venus is exalted in the sign of Pisces. The type of love signified by this placement is ethereal. As Venus is also the significator of values and wealth, the Venus in Pisces native will value the realm of Spirit far above the material plane. They sacrifice and give all for the object of their devotion, often seeming self-destructive to those who witness their acts. Theirs is an ardour not easily understood, often causing deep depression due to loneliness. Within the physical realm, their affection can never be reciprocated to the depth of their romantic understanding of this virtue. In van Gogh’s case, this energy was intensified by a conjunction with Mars. The inspiration and creativity bestowed by such an aspect likely drove him to the fringe and caused his feelings of ‘insanity’ due to the inability to find companion souls.
‘One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.’
Mars and Venus occupy the stormy lunar mansion of Uttara Bhadrapada. Known as the ‘Warrior Star’, this placement kept Vincent moving with his craft even through times of deep depression. If not for this placement, it could have very well been that we would not be fortunate enough to experience such prolific work, as he likely would have taken his life at an earlier age. The placement of Mars and Venus in this lunar mansion is likely also part of the driving force that created his interest in painting people at work, as Uttara Bhadrapada has an altruistic hue to its tone.
‘An artist needn’t be a clergyman or a churchwarden, but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men.’
In Part II of our Astrological Profile on van Gogh, we will take a look at aspects formed to his Mars-Venus conjunction, his natal Neptune, and Vincent’s placement of Pluto, Saturn and Uranus in artistic Taurus.