“All in all, I want to get to the point that people say about my work: this man feels deeply and this man feels delicately, despite my so-called coarseness or precisely because of it.” (Vincent Van Gogh)
The super-dominant of the chart returns without contest to the “intensive” full (Venus-Mars-Neptune) in Pisces. To be completely objective, let us refer to the interpretation that is made of this planets-Sign relationship:
“Your planetary formula highlights the tumultuous background of your sensitivity. There is in you, under indolent or detached exteriors, under apparently more serene attitudes, a whole magma of emotions and sensations, a whole swell of impressions which can toss you from passion to vagueness. soul […] You are one of those who feel: it doesn’t take much to affect you, you are receptive, impressionable, like a seismograph recording the slightest variations in the surrounding environment. You always have the possibility of ‘disconnecting’, of taking refuge in feigned indifference, of momentarily absorbing yourself in your thoughts and your dreams, but distance and isolation cannot suit your need for presence and contacts […].
You are therefore of a sensitive and sensual nature, vibrant and tormented, but your inner feverishness does not favor the free expression of your feelings. At least you will always be able to communicate your trouble, and if you come across a soul as receptive as yours, you will live in a state of affective communion with which the most beautiful amorous dialogues will appear full of blandness and insipidity.
If love for you knows how to do without words, it suffers in the extreme of not being able or not daring to declare itself. You will then have a pronounced taste for solitary reverie where your romantic soul will be intoxicated by the troubles and pangs in which your imagination throws you.
Basically, feeling is your only guide and your only measure: you have no other logic than that of intuition, no other ambition than that of love […] You have immense reserves of devotion and abnegation, tenderness and generosity, which can lead you to consider the fate of those who suffer, whether they belong to your immediate surroundings or to all and undifferentiated humanity.”
This theoretical portrait, written by the astrologer Philippe Pinchon, bears a striking resemblance to that of Van Gogh. Did he not say of himself: “All in all, I want to get to the point that people say about my work: this man feels deeply and this man feels delicately, despite my so-called coarseness […] or precisely because of it.”
In one sentence, Van Gogh defines the “and intensive” which dominates its natal chart in a striking shortcut: by Neptune ‘eT’, he “feels” (‘e’) “deeply” (‘T’), by Venus ‘eR’, he “feels” (‘e’) “delicately” (‘R’), and finally by Mars ‘eE’, despite its “rudeness” (‘E’), or “precisely because of her” (‘e’) he smells intensely.
Van Gogh is therefore a being in whom dominates an intense and feverish feeling of beings, things and situations. The power of the experienced, of the feeling (‘e’) prevails over distance and abstraction (weak ‘t’). He recognizes this himself in another letter to his brother Theo: “I am a man of passions, capable and subject to doing more or less senseless things, of which I happen to repent more or less. Sometimes I speak or act too quickly, when it would be better to wait with more patience […] Now that being the case, what should I do? Should we consider ourselves a dangerous man incapable of anything? I do not think so. But it is by any means a question of making good use of these very passions.”
The states of mind neptunians sometimes make melancholy this energetic marsian and tender venusian: “Instead of giving in to despair, I took the side of active melancholy” (Mars-Neptune) “as long as I had the power of activity” (Mars) “or in other words I preferred the melancholy that hopes and aspires and seeks” (dominant Neptune) “to the one who, gloomy and stagnant, despairs” (this is how a ruling Neptune ‘e’ can consider the melancholies saturnian… Saturn being the planet “blind” of the natal chart).
Mars is well and truly at the center of the Vangoghian real and of the “intensive e”; thus Van Gogh takes up and makes his own the sentences of another painter, Millet: “Art is a fight. In art you have to put your skin into it.” And responds in echo that he wants “make drawings that strike some people”.
Van Gogh’s art is a living, quivering art, immersed in the heart of nature. About his first successful painting, “The potato eaters”, which he painted in April-May 1885 as a Venus-Mars conjunction at the sextile of Neptune transited its conjunction Venus-Mars native, does he not write: “But let anyone who wants to see the sweet peasants ignore it. For my part, I am convinced that one obtains in the long run better results by painting them in their roughness rather than by bringing them a prettiness of convention.”
Painting so thick, with so much relief that it looks like sculpture or bas relief. Painting with a knife, furious brushstrokes: the image (‘eR’, Venus) must touch, strike, move violently (‘eE’, Mars). But by Neptune (‘eT’) a painting must also: “say something consoling like music. I would like to paint women and men” (‘e’) “with this eternal je ne sais quoi” (‘T’), “of which the nimbus was once the symbol, and which we seek by the very radiance, by the vibration” (‘e’) “of our colors” (‘R’).
In Van Gogh’s chart, the Sun/Aries is conjunct Venus-Mars/Pisces. This conjunction straddling the vernal equinox can therefore be considered dissonant, Aries and Pisces, Signs “mirrored”, having opposite dynamics of each other. This conflict between ‘R’ (Sun-Venus) and ‘e’ (Venus-Mars-Neptune) is very noticeable in the painter’s work and writings. We will come back to it. For the moment, in what way is Van Gogh a solar of Aries? It is undoubtedly this Sun/Aries that makes him an intrepid being, a go-getter, a pioneer who is both humble (Venus-Mars-Neptune) and proud (Sun ‘rR’), ready for all (re)starts, a fighter who does not hesitate to move forward at all costs, also a prisoner of his stubborn impulsiveness and his impatience.
Solar of Aries, Van Gogh would like to never compromise on his sacrosanct principles: “The sooner one seeks to qualify in a certain field of activity and a certain profession, and adopts a relatively independent way of thinking and acting, and the more one sticks to fixed rules, the firmer will become the character, and it will not be necessary for that to become narrow-minded.”
Solar of Aries always, despite the pangs of self-dissatisfaction into which his perfectionism plunged him and despite the material, moral and physiological misery in which he lived, he basically never doubted himself: “And that’s why I tell myself about myself: if I’m worth nothing now, I won’t be worth more later, but if I’m worth something later, it’s because I’m also worth something now.”
Narcissistic sun, constantly posing the problem of self-esteem, of the representation one has of oneself, of the gaze of others, of immediate or posthumous recognition… Van Gogh the sun is one of the painters who executed the most self-portraits (“representation of Representation” is the formula R.E.T. of the Sun!), as if it were vital, essential, necessary for him to constantly reproduce his image in order to recognize himself (‘rR’).
An idealist sun too, deeply marked by the models transmitted by his austere and rigorous pastor father, a father whom, despite everything, he never ceased to admire and venerate. The solar ideal is obviously simple, luminous, exemplary… which is not without causing problems and creating difficulties for him: “an ideal of simplicity” (Sun) “makes life more difficult and whoever has it, this ideal, only happens, as is my case, to not being able to do what he wants” (dissonant Sun-Mars conjunction).
No doubt, in the term “simplicity”, should we make allowance for the “intensive e” which encourages us to live naturally, without artifice. But the solar function is also part of it. It encourages the search for models and identifications. Thus, for the best of his posthumous glory and the worst of his lived misery, Van Gogh mythically identified himself with the eternal image of the Painter with a total intransigence which is indeed the act of an Aries unsuited to his time, deaf to all moderation, to all caution, throwing his status as a violent and rebellious artist in the face of society and official art. As if this idealist identification (‘rR’), this model of the Painter, allowed him to overlook the vagaries of concrete existence (Sun “non-E”).
Vincent, solar who wants to be unique, incomparable… and who was designed to replace another Vincent, born and dead before him: difficult, in this context, to forge a stable, reassuring, permanent identity.
A conflict between ‘R’ and ‘e’ highlights the tensions and incompatibilities between the representation we have of things and their concrete existence to which our five senses bear witness. For Van Gogh, artist, painter, this conflict is obviously transposed in the relationship between painting (Representation) and nature (Existence). And his letters to his brother Theo are particularly symptomatic of these tensions: “I don’t know of a better definition of the word art than this: ‘Art is man added to nature’, nature, reality, truth” (Mars ‘eE’), “but with a meaning, a conception, with a character that the artist brings out and to which he gives expression, “that he releases”, that he unravels, frees, illuminates” (Sun ‘rR’). “A painting […] says more and speaks more clearly” (“Venus-eR”) “than nature itself” (Mars ‘eE’). Similarly, Van Gogh constantly poses the problem of the complex interactions between color (‘R’) and feeling (‘e’): “It is the same with the question of color. There are colors that contrast nicely on their own” (Venus ‘eR’), “but I try to do as I see” (Sun ‘rR’), “before I go to work” (Mars ‘eE’) “to have it as I feel” (“intensive e”).
Finally, the last symptom of this separation between Representation and Existence, Van Gogh never ceased, all his life, to reproduce and copy (Soleil ‘rR’) the paintings of ancient and contemporary painters: imitation (‘R’) intentional (‘r’) was for him an unavoidable necessity to perfect his art… We also know that he could not paint without a model. And yet, moreover, he developed an original pictorial art, radically original compared to that of his Impressionist contemporaries. An art based on alchemical metamorphosis, in the crucible of intense feeling (‘e’), images of the world (‘R’) into powerful sensory impressions (‘e’).
In Aries-Pisces, day and night, diurnal and nocturnal clash. An essential text by Van Gogh, devoted to the technique of colors, perfectly illustrates this conflict of opposites: “And by a singular phenomenon, these same colors which are exalted by their juxtaposition will be destroyed by their mixture […] That being so, new contrasts may arise from the juxtaposition of two complementary ones, one of which is pure and the other broken. The struggle being unequal, one of the two colors triumphs, and the intensity of the dominant does not prevent the harmony of the two.”
And all of Van Gogh’s paintings are indeed built around a clash of violently opposed colors from which a powerful and disturbing emotion is born…
In Van Gogh’s birth chart, Venus-Mars-Neptune in Pisces are squared with Moon-Jupiter in Sagittarius. Intensive existence (‘e’) is therefore in conflict with extensive Existence (Mars-Jupiter, ‘E’), these tensions strongly affecting the lunar function.
Conflict between the intensely felt, the power of emotions, the fever of feelings (‘e’) and the need to reasonably manage one’s experience, to take advantage of it in a concrete and utilitarian logic (‘E’). Conflict which results, in Van Gogh, in a painful tension between the sensory pleasure of painting (‘e’) and the realism which commands to be able to negotiate and sell his paintings (‘E’): “The feeling and love of nature sooner or later finds an echo in those who are interested in art. The painter has a duty to immerse himself completely in nature, and to use all his intelligence, to put all his feeling into his work, so that it becomes understandable to others” (‘e’) “but working towards sales isn’t exactly the real path in my opinion, but rather giving a damn about amateurs” (‘E’ dissonant and rejected).
Van Gogh was literally crucified all his life between these two imperatives: either to devote himself exclusively and without reserve to the sensory-mystical exaltation that the very act of painting procures for him (‘e’ in painfully feeling the extent to which such an attitude not only isolates him from all normal life and forbids him any cozy cocoon (Moon-Jupiter), but also prevents him from materially organizing his life (Mars square Jupiter). Either be reasonable and realistic (‘E’), try to fit into the normal circuits of the artistic establishment of his time (Jupiter), find a safe home (Moon), at the risk of losing the intoxication of passion, the fever of the intensely experienced (‘e’): “I am always between two streams of ideas, the first: material difficulties, tossing and turning to create an existence” (‘E’), “and then: the study of color […] Expressing the love of two lovers through a marriage of two complementary ones, their mixture and their oppositions, the mysterious vibrations of close tones” (‘e’).
With a sovereign freedom and independence with regard to his perception and his conception of painting (the ‘e’ in extinctive inhibition encourages people to live their emotions and sensations without letting themselves be influenced by the outside), Van Gogh was totally dependent on others, and especially his brother Theo, to survive materially (weak and dissonant Moon-Jupiter).
To concretely ward off the difficult living conditions of the painters of his time, he often fantasized about the project of creating cooperatives of associated artists (Moon-Jupiter/Sagittarius) which would allow them to help each other by sticking together and by sharing the fruit of their sales, which is a matter of Extensive Existence and of the Moon in “associative excitement” Sagittarian: “He is conscious of making a painting intended for the future, but this accuracy of analysis is not sufficient to comfort his spirit upset by the pangs of financial dependence. He fights as much as he can, even suggesting the creation of artists’ cooperatives to help with sales, but refuses to give up his demands: rather die than not paint the painting for which he feels the deep necessity.”
A well-lived Moon-Jupiter conjunction in Sagittarius encourages you to live in intimate association, fusion, osmosis, with a group united by the same rules and interests. Here is the consonant interpretation of this aspect: “The subject finds his balance and his plenitude in a rich and well adapted social life. His human warmth, his good nature, his friendliness allow him to weave around him a network of relationships and support. He knows how to use it wonderfully to facilitate the achievement of his objectives and ambitions. By his eloquence, he becomes without forcing himself the center of interest of his group, over which he watches over with a benevolent and paternalistic authority. It seems quite natural to him to scrupulously respect the codes, laws and regulations that cement the social life of his environment. He mediates, plays the role of the reasonable diplomat, of the appeaser of conflicts, of the ‘parliamentarian’, the one who appeals to everyone’s well-understood interest. He knows how to organize his daily life to the best of his well-being. He has the art of simplifying his life with good humor.”
None of this in Van Gogh. Certainly, he aspired to calm, tranquility, lunar serenity: “That I would like to settle down so as to have a home”, exclaimed this eternal wanderer melancholy. But at the same time, as soon as he settled into a cozy and organized daily life, as soon as he tried to associate with other painters (such as Gauguin for example) to share a relationship of intimacy, his character violently Emotion quickly took over. He did not know how to make the necessary concessions to any social life: “As for people’s general sympathy for me” (Moon-Jupiter/Sagittarius), […] “I will always continue to believe that whoever wants to do something good or useful should not count on general approval and appreciation, nor desire it, but on the contrary hope for sympathy or help only from very rare hearts…” (‘e’).
And then, under a particularly badly experienced Mars-Jupiter square, “the subject seems incapable of inserting his experience, his instinctive acts, his turbulent impulsiveness within the framework of the norms and models that regulate life in a group or in society. He acts to act and lives to live, prisoner of a disheveled activism, devoid of any goal, any project, any sensible and reasonable perspective. He is good at acting against his well-understood interests and seems unable to learn from his experiences. Viscerally undisciplined and in favor of an unfettered existence, he rebels against all authority, all consensus, all conventional order, which are for him only monuments of hypocrisy. Where it would be necessary to parley and negotiate, to unite rather than divide, he exhausts himself and those around him by unleashing, with aggressive vigor, struggles, conflicts and showdowns.”
And in fact, Van Gogh never fails to make the virulent trial of Jupiter in the name of Venus-Mars-Neptune: “…an old academic school […] men having like a breastplate, a steel frame of prejudices and conventions, those when they are at the head of business, have positions, and by system of circumlocution” (Jupiter ‘rE’) “seek to maintain their proteges” (Moon) “and to exclude the natural man” (‘e’).
Rebellious to the comfort of academic and conventional norms (Moon-Jupiter/Sagittarius), he could only sink into his intense experience of painting (‘e’), in a permanent challenge to all the rules of common sense, perspective and material survival.
This configuration, subdominant in Van Gogh’s natal chart, is undoubtedly at the origin of his voluminous epistolary exchanges with his brother Theo. This fierce, wild and rustic painter needed, as soon as he escaped from his canvases and brushes, to communicate… with a real happiness of writing and a superb sense of negotiation… to make Theo understand that he had need money!
What to say, briefly, about the weakness of the planets ‘t’ and ‘T’ in Vincent’s chart? Vincent Van Gogh, in his life as in his works, is anti-intellectualism, anti-abstraction, anti-distance, anti-recoil. He is furiously and feverishly incarnated, alive, hyper-present to beings and things. “Who’s in charge, the numbers or me?” he exclaimed. In 1877, Saturn, planet ‘t’, “blind” in his natal chart, transited in conjunction with natal Venus-Mars-Neptune. It was during this period that he undertook his in-depth studies in theology… a “science” which does belong to the ‘T’ and ‘t’ levels. Then he went away, as a missionary, to evangelize the miserable minors of his “flat country”. The ecclesiastical authorities were quick to relieve him of his charge, noting that instead of calling his flock to the transcendence of God, he preferred to share poorly, humbly and carnally, in good ‘e’, their miserable living conditions. A sentence of his sums up well how he positioned himself in relation to the abstractions of the ‘t’, his least valued planetary family: “If I have something to regret bitterly, it is to have let myself be seduced for a while by mystical and theological abstractions.”
And if Vincent Van Gogh kept an intense Christian faith all his life, it was anchored to his body and his experience, much more than a metaphysical abstraction.
Of course, this interpretation of Van Gogh’s chart is very simplified and reductive. It is only intended to give you a general idea of what an astrological analysis can be that sets in motion the various concepts of modern astrology. We can interpret a chart in one page (it is then a cliché, a “photo booth”, even a caricature), in ten or fifty pages (one can then go into more depth on the subject, without however exhausting it) or in 300 pages or more.
One can also wonder what the interpretation of this natal horoscope would have given, if it had belonged to someone other than a para-impressionist painter born into a family of art dealers, from a father pastor, etc. It would no doubt have been noticeably different, because it would have integrated other extra-horoscopic conditioning. Maybe this “astral twin” would he have better lived and integrated his dissonances. No doubt he would have invested the tendencies and potentials expressed by his birth sky in Objects other than painting, thus giving them another scale, another intensity, another destiny…
But the general problematic expressed by the natal chart would have remained the same. Only the answers would have varied: the same chart would have been experienced differently, that’s all…
Finally, this very succinct interpretation of the main lines of Van Gogh’s chart has essentially an explanatory, illustrative, in a word educational, vocation. From the same zodiaco-planetary framework, it is quite possible to make, for example, a vivid and vivid psychological portrait, in the style of “Caractères” by La Bruyere.
Article published in issue No. 12 of the Cahiers conditionalistes (December 1986).
Le petit livre du Bélier
49 pages. Illustrations en couleur.
Ce livre présente et explique les trois zodiaques : celui du décor des constellations, celui de l’astrologie traditionnelle basé sur les Quatre Éléments symboliques (Feu, Terre, Air & Eau) et celui de l’astrologie naturelle basé sur les phénomènes astronomiques objectifs.
Interprétation du Bélier selon la symbolique classique et selon ses réflexes dans le zodiaque naturel (force, vitesse, équilibre) ; interprétation du Bélier en fonction des planètes dominantes ; le Signe solaire & le Signe Ascendant.
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