Overnight the news came through from New York that Philip Seymour Hoffman had passed away due to an apparent drug overdose. It was reported that he was found in his apartment on Sunday 2nd February having seemingly taken a heroin overdose. This is a man who did have a drug problem in his early 20’s but had been clean for two decades during which he became a world wide star and probably one of Hollywood’s most respected and likeable actors. He contributed to such wonderful films as Flawless, The Talented Mr Ripley, Capote, Doubt and The Master, and he was recently filming the sequel to the hugely successful Hunger Games. So why with this wonderful portfolio of work was he suddenly driven back to drugs and ultimately to succumb to the demons of heroin? The planets as ever have the answer.
Phillip was born on 23rd July 1967 in Fairport, New York (no birth time known) and on this date it leaves every Astrologer in a quandary, as if he was born early in the morning he was a late Cancerian, but after 9.15am he would have been a Sun sign Leo. Even the sign of the Moon is questionable as late in the evening New York time, the Moon switched out of the sign of Aquarius into elusive Pisces. Because of the uncertainty of the initial data I have, it is impossible to make too many assumptions about the character of Philip from the chart I have, however, this is a chart that I still know very, very well. Why? It’s because I was born just 11 days after Philip, indeed had I been born on the day I was predicted to, I would have shared my birthday with him. Many of the planets are in very similar positions to where my planets are, and so I have much insight into what he went through down the years as the transits he faced, I did too.
His Moon is likely in Aquarius so although friendly and sociable, Philip may well have been a little aloof, very rational, independent and quite self sufficient. I just wonder though if he was born very late on the 23rd shifting that Moon into sensitive and escapist Pisces. This is a very creative and intuitive position and in my eyes this would have been much more appropriate for an actor who has a history of drug taking, as Pisces (ruled by Neptune) has a link to films, alcohol and narcotics. There is an emotional vulnerability present within all those with the Moon in Pisces and they can become very impressionable and sensitive to the prevailing mood around them. As such a fine character actor, my hunch is that he was born after 21.00 hours on the 23rd July, indeed a birth time of 23.00 (see above) would pull his Sun definitely into Leo alongside Jupiter in the 5th house of entertainment and personal creativity. It would also give him not only a Pisces Moon but one hidden away in the 12th house of suffering and escapism along with a Pisces Ascendant, much more conducive to the chart of an actor who suffered with addiction problems.
We share a similar Sun square to Mars in Scorpio, bringing a hastiness and impatience to one’s actions, especially when young as well as a quiet but determined streak; there is a strong will present to get your own way but others won’t understand and realise that it sits there. Those with Mars in Scorpio burn under the surface, it’s like your anger and much of your energy and desires are trapped and often you can’t let them out. Secrecy is another trait of those of us with Mars in Scorpio, we rarely are able to let out what we really think and believe, making us hard to read properly. You may think you know what we are planning, but you will never know for sure.
Like myself as well, he had a wide Venus, Uranus Pluto stellium in Virgo, the Venus placement giving him an eye for detail, making him a good listener and someone who naturally would want to care for others. I think he would have been discerning and would have been able to discriminate in what was beautiful and what was not, especially as Venus in his chart was sextile to Mercury. Generally, Venus in this sign is rather understated and gives one a modest side to one’s character, although if he was a Leo the more proud and egotistical side would sometimes have come out.
That Uranus Pluto conjunction made just one aspect but it was a important one, with Uranus being almost exactly, sextile to Neptune. Uranus enhances or electrifies anything it touches and both these planets would have had an effect of Philip’s Neptune, especially if as I suspect this planet ruled his chart. The effect of Neptune would have been very strong with Philip, and the sextile to Pluto would have added a secretive underground and potentially destructive edge to the way he lived his life. This seems very true to what actually happened, especially if you add in the fact that Neptune sat exactly to the second on the fixed star Unukalhai which sits in the constellation of Serpens, as the heart of the Serpent. This star can weaken the state of one’s health or make one susceptible to drugs and poisons, especially when linked with the planet Neptune or Saturn. As I will explain a bit later, a coming together of these two planets signalled many difficulties that he was going to have to face.
Twelve degrees is a very potent degree on this chart, simply because Jupiter Saturn and Mercury sit on this degree point, Jupiter in Leo , Mercury in Cancer and Saturn in Aries. Saturn is not a happy fellow in Aries as it is in it’s fall sign, the one it operates least well in. Those of us with Saturn in Aries so much want to be the best and be pre-eminent but often fear being in a lead role too. It is amazing how many supporting characters that Philip portrayed in his films, as if despite his brilliance he was reticent to take up the top job. Only his portrayal of Truman Capote in Capote saw him stand out on his own topping the bill, and subsequently picking up an Oscar for best actor. I am sure that Saturn in Aries lent a hand in this penchant for playing a lesser role.
Mercury in Cancer is another position like Saturn in Aries I have with Philip bringing an interest in human stories and a love of the past, and he would be able to use the full range of emotions in the manner that he communicated. This was very much one of his strengths, and there is no surprise that he excelled in the way that he portrayed the characters he was asked to play because of the fact that Mercury sat on the star Sirius, the shining one or the scorcher. Mercury with this star shows a fantastic ability for language, speaking and for having an understanding of human actions and emotions as well as an ability for making sacred even the most mundane of situations. The problem with Sirius is that the brilliance is not normally long lasting; like any flame once the oxygen is sucked out, the flame dies. This seems a metaphor for Philip’s life, stunningly talented but cut tragically short. Mercury sat closely square to Saturn in his chart showing a very disciplined and rational mind, and one in which it is very easy to get completely wrapped up in one’s work and ambitions. It is known that he was very hard working and dedicated to his craft, mimicking this square aspect perfectly.
Jupiter in Leo is warm hearted, jovial and wants to be adored and loved, and he would have very much enjoyed the glitz and glamour of the film world, this is the position of a show off who wants to let the world know about what he can do and get as much acclaim as one can. There can be a sense that one is high and mighty, however I suspect that the exact trine from Saturn and the more muted placements of Mercury and Venus would have reigned in much of the excesses that were on show here. There would have been the tendency to go over the top with Jupiter in Leo when that Saturn safety net he had in his chart failed, and at the time that Philip took his final overdose, Saturn was in the very worst position that it could ever have been.
Now I said that 12 degrees was a key point on this chart as when any planet got to this spot, it would impact Mercury Jupiter and Saturn at the same time, a triple whammy aspect. In the late spring/early summer of 1989 when Philip was dealing with his drug problems, transiting Neptune and Saturn made a conjunction at 12 degrees Capricorn, making a square to his natal Saturn, an opposition to his Cancerian Mercury and a tricky inconjunct aspect to his natal Jupiter. This time at age 22 was the height of his drug use and he was taking literally anything on offer. Neptune the planet of escapism and drugs in slowly approaching 12 degrees over the previous year or so would have affected his mind in opposing Mercury, thus he would have had to adjust to deal with excess and experimentation in the inconjunct to Jupiter. The approaching square from Neptune to Saturn would have caused him to lose discipline and focus at that time as well, so no wonder he went off the rails at that time. Saturn coming along to conjunct with Neptune brought realism to him, and at that point he entered rehab and remarkably he stayed off drugs until very recently.
As you will know if you follow my blog avidly, Pluto the planet of transformation, death and destruction now sits at 12 degrees Capricorn. Again in the lead up to Pluto getting to 12 Capricorn in the last year, Philip lurched back into old habits. During May 2013, just after Pluto had got to 11:33 Capricorn in April before turning retrograde, he once again entered rehab for heroin and prescription drug abuse. With Neptune you can escape and often survive, but with Pluto there is none, and once the Lord of Darkness hit 12 degrees Capricorn on 23rd January this year, the writing was unfortunately on the wall. What made things much worse this time was the position of transiting Saturn, sitting conjunct to Philip’s natal Neptune. This is a hugely difficult position for Saturn as the conjunction with Neptune causes despair and often loss, and if as I suspect he was born very late on the 23rd July 1967, then this conjunction may well have occurred in his 8th house of death and mortality. Saturn on the star Unukalhai can signify a “drug taker” and the conjunction on this star I am sure caused the difficult times because of the substances he was taking. Saturn’s influence in the conjunction with Neptune would have been weakened at this point, and thus it’s hold on the excesses hidden within his chart would I think have been loosened enough for him to get himself into deep trouble.
Transiting Pluto was now opposing Mercury with transiting Jupiter sitting at 12 degrees Cancer directly on top of the planet of the mind. This potent opposition indicated excess of enormous proportions directly affecting Philip’s thought processes. With his mind being turned inwards and into turmoil from Pluto, his Jupiter in Leo impacted heavily by the inconjunct from Pluto and the square from Pluto to natal Saturn causing huge difficulty and the feeling of being trapped in a situation that you could not find your way out of, Philip I think turned to the one way he knew he could avoid the pain and anguish that he was feeling inside.
You will also notice that transiting Uranus was starting to square his natal Mercury and close in on a conjunction to his natal Saturn, so unpredictability of his thoughts and actions and the temptation to break out of his old habits and ways of living would have been other motivating factors. Also the transiting Nodes were at approaching a half Nodal return. This time in one’s life is a crossroads and this one was doubly important to Philip as the nodes were squaring his natal Sun at the same time. Often one has to take on new responsibilities, face up to old issues from the past or fate decides that one has to go in a different direction under these transits. Perhaps the pressures on him from factors that at the moment remain hidden will eventually reveal themselves? The North Node was also conjunct to his natal Mars making him more susceptible to taking reckless actions. Did this contribute to him taking the overdose that took his life? I believe it very possible.
It is a crying shame that someone so hugely talented has been taken away from us, but as in so many cases and I can think of Heath Ledger as another recent example, it’s the really talented ones who shine for a brief period of time who really go down in legend and fame. His star may not be shining any more on this earthly plane, but the name Philip Seymour Hoffman will live for ever on the silver screen as being one of the very best actors of his generation.