The astrology of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman, sometimes called the greatest actor of his generation, died in a heroin overdose in New York City this weekend. At the time the extent of his addiction wasn’t known – earlier news articles simply reported problems with heroin and other addictions early in his life but that he had been in recovery since he was 22. In May 2013 he went into rehab for addiction to heroin and prescription medication.
According to his astrological chart, Hoffman (born July 23, 1967, Fairport NY, time unknown) was born with the Sun in Leo challenged by a square to Mars. Individuals with the Sun in Leo need to shine in some way and Leo is often associated with performance and fame. Mars in his chart is in Scorpio, the sign of emotional intensity and the roots of power. With Mars in Scorpio, Hoffman had a deep reserve of emotional richness from which he could draw for the dark characters he often played. But this is a fiery combination of planet – the Leo Sun square to fire planet Mars – that requires expression and a certain amount of combativeness.
Mars in his chart conjoins the South Node, so learning to handle Mars is an assignment that he came into this life with. The South Node is in Scorpio with the North Node in Taurus, indicating that he was moving from the energy of Scorpio, with its intensity and drama, to Taurus and an experience of peace and serenity and comfort. With the Sun squaring the Nodes, he came into this life to develop his personal identity and allow himself to shine through – yet as an individual he was nearly invisible behind the roles that he played.
It’s interesting that at the time of his death he was experiencing the “reverse nodal return” – the time in our lives that happens about every nine years when the South Node in the sky aligns with the North Node in our chart, and vice versa. During these periods we find ourselves looking back to make corrections so that we can move forwards in our lives with proper alignment. This is rather like a mid-term exam in college.
We don’t know the exact location of Hoffman’s Moon because we don’t have a time of birth available to us, but we know that his Moon is in Aquarius and it makes a square to Neptune. An Aquarian Moon generally denotes an individual who has a level of discomfort with the complexity of emotions and prefers to experience life through a veil of reason. The Moon represents our emotions, and in a detached and rational sign like Aquarius it tends to show dissociation from feeling; however, the square from Neptune creates veils of confusion and romantic idealism that can destroy the carefully constructed impersonalization of the Aquarian Moon. Neptune in the chart shows where and how we find a transcendent experience, and this can come from spirituality, from creativity, or from addiction. Each of these life experiences takes us outside of ourselves in a very Neptunian way, and Hoffman utilized all three.
Despite the reputation that Leo has for joy, one could rarely see joy in Hoffman’s expression. In interviews and in candid paparazzi photos, Hoffman always appeared depressed ( of Hoffman images and you’ll see what I mean). We often look to Saturn and Pluto in diagnosing depression astrologically, but an afflicted Mars that cannot find expression can be an even bigger culprit. Psychologists tell us that depression is anger turned inwards, and here is where we find Mars – Mars represents the cycle of anger that begins with frustration, travels through anger and ends with rage. When Mars lacks a means of expression we often find not only depression but a host of complex health disorders as well, from digestive upsets to immune disorders.
Transiting Chiron (wounding and healing) had been opposing Hoffman’s Venus since March of 2013, and it is reported that he had been asked to leave the home he shared with his partner of 14 years due to his rekindled heroin use. Feelings of failure at the loss of his relationship could have sent him on a downward spiral which at first he attempted to cure with a trip to rehab in May, but then surrendered to as Chiron sat right on his Venus between October and December.
Transiting Pluto and Uranus were both aspecting his Mercury in a challenging transit that would have made him at once reckless (Uranus) and compulsive (Pluto). The fact that he was allegedly found with speaks to the degree of his rash and impulsive behavior of late. Transiting Pluto was itself conjunct Venus, intensifying relationships for everyone on the planet and forcing hidden issues into the open where they must be dealt with.
Transiting Saturn, the Celestial Teacher which tests and requires that we face the reality of our situation, had been transiting Hoffman’s Neptune and likely squaring his Moon. Transits of Saturn to the Moon can feel heavy and cause us to feel isolated and along, and in Hoffman’s case highlighted a choice between the Moon and Neptune. He chose Neptune in the form of heroin.
This is a very sad story but should also remind us how crucial it is to allow our inner fears and frailties to be heard so that we can manage and work through them. Perhaps this was Hoffman’s goal in playing the characters he chose and for which he was chosen, but in the end it was not enough.
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