Woolf, 1939
March, 2003
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The Astrology of Insanity
Virginia Woolf, Friedrich Nietzsche, Vaslav Nijinsky, and Vincent Van Gogh

Please Note
Individuals not familiar with this astrology should read the earlier papers on mental illness posted on this site. The Duke and Schumann papers address the astrology of manic depression. The ones on John Nash, Jr. and John Hinckley, Jr. cover schizophrenia and paranoid schizophrenia, respectively. William Styron’s is about clinical depression. Tennyson's about lifelong depression. Presented in each are significator sets and relevant charts for each disease. Each discusses the connection between the planets and the disease they sponsor. Here are their links:

William Styron and Clinical Depression
Patty Duke and Bipolar Disorder
Manic Depression As It Was Reflected in the Life of Robert Schumann
Was John Hinckley Schizophrenic?
Depression and Tennyson
Schizphrenia and John Forbes Nash
2012: Thirteen More Examples of Schizophrenia, Including One Multiple Personality

Many readers of these papers on mental conditions read only about that condition, or perhaps one other. Thus they have no idea how well this astrological method works. To get some sense of it, they can read some of the many papers on this sites about twins. In traditional astrology, it is hard to account for differences that can occur in the lives of twins. This astrology accounts for them. Here is a link to one of the twin papers:The Silent Twins. Links to the other twin papers are found in each paper.

Virginia Woolf was a novelist, essayist, publisher, and lecturer; Nietzsche, a philologist and writer ; Nijinsky, a ballet dancer and choreographer, and Van Gogh, an artist, especially painter. In the order of their birth, from earliest to latest, Nietzsche was born first (1844), then Van Gogh (1853), then Woolf (1882), and, finally, Nijinsky (1888). Each suffered some kind of mental imbalance. Nietzsche and Nijinsky apparently went permanently insane, living many years past the onset of their insanity. Woolf and Van Gogh committed suicide. Woolf killed herself because she believed she would never recover her sanity. Van Gogh also killed himself because.... It was because he could no longer bear his schizophrenia. Or was it? No, Van Gogh--I show here, in support of his dying words to his brother, Theo--killed himself because he could no longer bear his incessant depression.

Although Nietzsche and Van Gogh lived most of their lives in the latter half of the 19th century, Woolf and Nijinsky lived well into the 20th, dying in 1941 and 1950 respectively. Nonetheless, diagnoses for their illnesses are either not modern, or they are contested. The reason is simple--they are not here for our updated evaluation based on our present understanding of mental disease. Yet, in reading their biographies, names crop up. Diagnoses are attached to them based on their writing, their symptoms, and reports from those who knew them.

When an individual--for instance, Nijinsky, who was insane for over 30 years--spends half his life insane, whether he lived then or lives now, it behooves us to know, exactly what was his mental condition? That much loss of life--half a life of mental chaos-- is sad enough for any individual. With some one like Nijinsky, an enormously creative man, in addition to it being his personal tragedy, it was a public one.

Insanity is too general a diagnosis. Today we want to know exactly what form of mental illness the individual has. Is his disease primarily mental, or does he have physical deterioration? Is cause chemical, physical, neurological, environmental? In the genes? In her traumatic early environment? Is the patient suffering one of those odd and fascinating neurological diseases described by Dr. Oliver Sachs? Maybe he just has heavy metal poisoning? Perchance it is a complication of his allergies, or a severe vitamin deficiency? Would you believe, even today, end-stage syphilis? All these, and more, are diagnoses now associated with various forms of mental impairment. In the last 100 years we have come a long way in differentiating types of insanity.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have even more clarity? If we could know exactly what the individual’s impairment was? We could if we had an astrology which accurately described each individual’s mental disorder. It would give us a heretofore unheard-of diagnostic advantage. If we had that kind of astrology, we could diagnose individuals who are not even here. Given accurate birth data, not only would we not need to see them, they would not even have to be alive. They could, in fact, have lived hundreds--even thousands--of years ago.

Furthermore, as soon as we matched their astrology with their disease--assuming astrology is consistent, we would have the right diagnosis for whole classes of people. They, in turn, would give us more information on their group. They would, moreover, receive the proper treatment, the one for their disease instead of somebody else’s. And finally, we would be ready with the correct diagnosis when treatment discoveries occurred in the future.

Right now we have this astrological method. So far it has identified mental retardation, schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder. It has identified autism. And it has identified Alzheimer’s disease. Their astrology is subject to amendment, but no longer likely to be completely in error.

So, here I use this astrology to look at the mental illness of four individuals who are no longer with us. We will examine all four in the light of the diagnosis most associated with them.

For the two individuals who committed suicide, we additionally examine their charts relative to the reason they gave for their suicide.

(1) Virginia Woolf thought she was going insane (again). Was she? She believed she would never recover her sanity. Can we identify what, if anything, makes insanity permanent? Barring that, what makes an individual believe her insanity will be permanent?

Fortunately, we have two individuals who did lose their minds permanently. What do their charts contain which suggests permanent insanity?

(2) Van Gogh, on the other hand, stated he would never be rid of his depression. Was he insane or “just” depressed, or both? Did he have the astrology of depression? If he did, is it true he would never have been free from it?

Some diagnosed Woolf's condition as manic depression; some, as schizophrenia. Since this paper is not about manic depression, we want first to affirm or deny--in terms of her astrology--whether Woolf had that condition. [I removed this material from the Woolf analysis because it was so piecemeal. its astrology weak and comprised of the "sum" of many sets. On reading it much later than after writing the paper, I decided it would turn the reader away from reading the rest of the paper. So, I removed it. Here I state just that while Woolf had a "bit" of manic-depression astrology, her main "mental" astrology was for schizophrenia.] Then, we will get on with examining the "insanity" of all four individuals.

Before that, a few paragraphs about this method.

Astrological Method
This method is not the traditional Western one. It uses a birth and conception planets and their harmonics and houses, all of which share the same axis. Here is how it is formed and some of its empirically-derived operating principles:

This astrology uses the sidereal positions of the planets based on the Fagan-Bradley’s SVP. The practical differences between sidereal (Eastern) and tropical (Western) zodiacs is discussed in an earlier paper. Here is the link: Tropical vs. Sidereal Astrology--A Discussion.
Harmonics are taken from the sidereal position of the planets. The Egyptian harmonic, discussed in the paper “About This Method,” is used (and must be to arrive at the excellent results of this method). This is also the paper which contains a link to the discussion about the formula for finding conception. Here it is: About This Method.
”Lights” include suns, moons, and moons nodes. When mercury rules any Angle, it also acts like a light, and then and only then it has the same orb as the other lights-- 5°, with 5° being very weak. Always, the closer to the upper limit of the allowable orb, the weaker the astrology. The MC or Asc also acts like a light (with only a 2° orb) because when a set is on an Angle it does not need a light to be active. Planets with lights on Angles increase the orb to something more than 1° but never more than 2°. The orb for planets progressed to Angles and vice versa is 1°. But return Angles use a 2° orb, that is, an Angle of a return can function close to the same as any birth/conception Angle or their progressions during the period of the return.
Returns used with this method occur exactly every 40° from conception and birth (which are 80° from each other). Only sets on those Angles are interpreted, not planets in return houses, but return planets may fall on birth or progressed Angles. In that case, their orb can only be the same 1° already in use for planets on progressed Angles. The return moon and it harmonic act just like moons found in birth/conception and progressed sets--they show forms of consciousness that register negative when with malefics and positive when with benefics and are sensitive to transits. But, of course, they register that consciousness for only a limited time during the return time.
Locality Angles and their progressed positions have nearly as much sensitivity to birth/conception planets and their progressions as do the Angles of birth/conception chart and their progressions. Thus, when an individual moves to a locality which puts his more benevolent astrology on his locality Angles, that is a more positive locality for him, but it does not wipe out birth/locality afflictions to Angles.
This method uses only conjunctions, applying and separating squares, and oppositions. (There is a table in the paper on Chartrules which shows which traditional aspects--e.g., semi-square, trine, quincunx, etc.--in the sidereal are converted to conjunctions, squares, and oppositions in the harmonics and which charts they occur in.) Again, orbs for static (not progressed) planets with lights is 5°; without lights, about 2°. Orb for MC/planet or Asc/planet is 2°. Planets so related to each other are referred to as in the same “set.” A set, then, is two or more planets (or an Angle) connected to each other through conjunction, square, and opposition within the defined orbs.
Learning to look in terms of “crosses” can be helpful in rapidly finding planets that are in the same set.
Sets without Angles are more active when they contain a light, and hardly register when without one, except, of course, when with lights provided by returns, progressions, transits and synastry.
Because this approach uses both a birth and conception chart and they share the same axis, birth houses usually overlap different houses of the conception chart. These are called “house overlaps.” Sometimes house overlaps are very significant if for no other reason than when they contain a lighted malefic, that set occurs simultaneously in both those houses. Throughout my papers when writing of house overlaps the convention is used of putting the birth house first, then the conception house. So, for instance, a “5th/1st overlap" refers to an overlap of birth 5th house with conception 1st house in that order.
Birth planets (including their harmonics) rule only birth houses. Conception planets (including their harmonics) rule only conception houses.
For a more thorough explanation of the empirically-derived rules for reading these charts, refer to the following: Chart Reading Rules
In the partial charts shown below, birth planets and their harmonics are inside the circle. Conception planets and their harmonics are outside the circle. Conception sidereal planets are red; conception harmonic ones, black. Birth sidereal planets are blue; birth harmonic ones, green. Occasionally, because of space limitations, I have had to violate this inside/outside arrangement, but the color coding remains constant.
Abbreviations used are b = birth, c = conception, t = transiting, and p = progressed. The harmonic used to derive harmonic planets for each chart is always two more than the chart’s number. So, the harmonic used to create the 5th chart is 5 + 2 = 7th harmonic. However, to avoid confusion for readers of these papers, I have adopted the convention in writing of matching the harmonic number to the chart it identifies. For example, the 5th chart is created by using the 7th harmonic. But it quickly gets confusing if, for example, its birth harmonic mars is written as "b7 mars." It begins to be read as the harmonic mars for the 7th chart. So using the convention of writing about birth harmonic mars for the 5th chart as "b5 mars," keeps one's attention on the fact one is looking at data for the 5th chart. Then the only thing necessary is to remember, when creating charts, that the harmonic used to do so is always the number of the chart plus 2.
Thus, in papers "pc3 neptune" refers to the harmonic of progressed neptune in a 3rd chart. And return3 venus refers to the harmonic of return venus when it is used to work with the 3rd chart. The actual harmonic used to find both figures is the 5th.

We need to identify the astrology correlated schizophrenia

The Planets of Schizophrenia and Paranoid Schizophrenia
Astrology has already established that neptune is a planet whose influence promotes illusion. To quote astrologer and author Rob Hand (from his book Horoscope Symbols, 1981. Gloucester MA, Para Research):

"Neptune is probably the most difficult planetary energy to understand. Its nature eludes definition because it is associated with aspects of the universe that are unclear, illusory, delusory, ill-defined, and even imaginary....If Saturn is reality, Neptune is unreality. If Saturn is an aspect of the ego, Neptune is denial of the ego. If Saturn is our notion of time and space, Neptune is outside of time and space, in either a non-dimensional or an infinitely dimensioned universe....On a low level, Neptune represents experiences that becloud the ego, which, in order to function, needs a sense of a secure ultimate reality.”
In terms of. this astrology, then, for neptune to drive a 3rd chart towards insanity it must be in a set described by "Angle/light/neptune/3rd." 3rd refers to one of the two 3rd houses within the chart. Lights are suns, moons, or moon's nodes. When the set is actually on an Angle, a light is not necessary. Otherwise, the influence to the Angle comes through one of the planets in the set ruling an Angle.
Angles also act like lights, but with only a 2° orb (rather than the 5° orbs of sun, moon and node).

Any other planet involved in the set with neptune is probably modulating that schizophrenia. But it may also have its significance by the fact that it rules an Angle or 3rd house within the chart. That of mars is clear:

More can be stated about other modulaters of schizophrenia, but these are not in the schizophrenic set.

Non-Significator Modulators of Schizophrenia and Paranoid Schizophrenia
In particular, several other astrological conditions contribute to the breakdown of a viably functioning personality and therefore exacerbate schizophrenia. These are:

Stated in plain English, a difficult childhood (1st chart) with its attendant retardation or suppression of stages of development increases the problem of schizophrenia. In the same manner, because human beings are very social in their identity, confusion in relating to others (especially through 4th, 7th, and 10th charts representing relations to father, significant others, and the mother respectively), decreases the number of truly satisfying avenues of experience and expression available to the individual. Therefore they increase his susceptibility to fantasy and illusion. Combined with a "schizophrenic" 3rd chart (of mind), they further conduce to confused mental states.

If one of the non-malefic planets of personality--mercury, venus, or jupiter--is part of the schizophrenic set containing light/neptune or light/mars/neptune, they may modulate the severity of the schizophrenia in the following ways:

light/mercury/neptuneenablescreative writing, thinking, fantasy
light/venus/neptuneenablesartistic and aesthetic capacities, strong feelings
light/jupiter/neptuneenablesreligiousness; mysticism

Their benefic effect is likely increased by other benefic influences in the 3rd chart (or in some cases, other charts), and likely diminished when those charts are also afflicted.

Any therapist already knows this stuff, but they have not seen it demonstrated as is the case here and in the general paper on schizophrenia (link above).

The Charts Primarily Involved in Schizophrenia
Taking into consideration the comments above about how other problems in life can exacerbate schizophrenia, two charts in particular represent charts portraying astrological schizophrenia. They are the harmonic charts for the 1st and 3rd houses--also called the 1st and 3rd charts.

The harmonic chart for the 1st House (also called the 1st chart) is involved because, as discussed above, it is paramount in showing the identity we gain in childhood when we have little choice about where it may end up taking us. Especially difficult childhoods--and the fractured identity they sponsor, contraibute to schizophrenia when it is astrologicall present.

Of course the 3rd chart of mind is the major one because schizophrenia is an illness involving the mind.

Combining the Significators with the Charts to Get the Astrological Significator for Schizophrenia
The main significator for schizophrenia occurs in the 3rd chart as Angle/light/neptune/3rd in which 3rd refers to one of the two third houses within the chart. 3rd Chart is stated separately, as above. When written this way--in "path form," the Angle part represents either an Angle actually in the set or one referred to by a ruling planet in the set.

Paranoid schizophrenia, therefore, is represented by Angle/light/mars/neptune/3rd in a 3rd chart.

When the set is on an Angle, a light is not necessary since the Angle acts like a light with an orb of 2°. When it is not on an Angle, then one of the planets in the set must rule an Angle.

The light/neptune may actually occur in a 3rd house within the 3rd chart as a conjunction in which case that shows the 3rd house influence. Otherwise, the 3rd house influence must come from one of the planets in the set ruling or co-ruling a 3rd house.

As far as I now know, one of the significant planets in the set must be a harmonic one. This is more difficult to describe and I am not sure I have seen all the possibilities. It seems that when Angle/light/neptune occurs sidereally (all non-harmonic), and therefore occurs in all charts, it does not describe schizophrenia because it has no particular reference to the 3rd chart. That may not be the case if the path is Angle/light/neptune/3rd in all charts.

Now we can start with Mrs. Woolf's astrology.

Virginia Adeline Stephen Woolf
Virginia Woolf is remembered primarily as a member of the Bloomsbury, a group of English intellectuals, and as a novelist. Some of her novels experimented with the form itself of the novel. One of her longer essays--it is certainly not a novel--caught my attention.

Stumbling upon it by accident, I read Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own many years ago. It is classified as feminist literature. It is that. It is interesting feminism because in writing it, Woolf never slips into dogma. She keeps her balance. In exploring the unequal fare, in her day and historically, of men and women, she uses parody, satire, humor. She marshals facts. She takes the reader on a trip. If he was able to overcome his original pre-conception about “feminist fare,” he was in for a treat, an intellectual stretch, an occasional eye-opener, even, now and then, a guffaw.

A Room of One’s Own is more than feminist literature. It is an excellent exposition about what constitutes genius. It ends up, in fact, being a book about individuality, or, as some write it, Individuality, and even, perhaps, Objectivity.

So, when I read A Room long ago, I became a Woolf admirer. I wanted to know more about her. I rarely read novels, but I like biographies. In reading biographies of Woolf I learned she committed suicide. At age 59, while experiencing her third major mental breakdown, she drowned herself.

I looked at Woolf’s chart years ago, but we--astrologers--never had a time of birth for her, only her date and place. So, I could never even investigate her insanity. That was true until just weeks ago. Then Astrodatabank.com posted her time on its site.

All four subjects of this paper had “European” births. European usually means birth time has been recorded to the nearest quarter hour. Nearest quarter of an hour is good for most circumstances, but not for astrology. It is, however, something to start with.

Given the approximate time of birth, such as the nearest quarter hour, astrologers, using life descriptions as well as prior events in the individual’s life, rectify the chart, that is, find actual birth time. Then they use that new time for their work. Of the four individuals discussed here, only Woolf’s and Nietzsche's charts have been rectified. The astrology for their rectification has been put in Appendices A and B. After returning to this document, to return to this spot all you need do is a search for “Appendix A”.

Go To Appendix A

The weight of later opinion on Virginia Woolf’s mental condition is that she suffered from bipolar disorder (manic depression). To me it was a surprising latter-day diagnosis. Manic depressive individuals may commit suicide when they are in their depressed phase, but they do not usually believe they are losing their mind. Woolf stated--she put it in writing--she feared she was losing her mind, this time permanently.

Two previous papers show manic depression--those of Duke and Schumann. Links to those papers are at the top of this page. Many more individuals diagnosed with manic depresion, whose astrology did not end up in a paper, demonstrated similar astrology.

The conclusion of that research was that the primary planetary significators for manic depression are saturn and uranus. Specifically, in a 3rd chart, they have to be lighted (in a set with a sun, moon, or node), and on or influencing--through a ruler--an Angle and and a 3rd house within the chart. The problem is much worse when these two planets satisfy those conditions and are in separate sets. In that case, they tend to express alternately. When they are in the same set, they still tend toward mania and depression, but in that case they tend to modulate each other, reducing the extremity experienced.

Let's look at Woolf's 3rd chart. (I put in only the planets I want to discuss.)

Virginia Woolf
Partial Harmonic Chart for Her 3rd House

Placidus: c11--26Aqu, c12--13Ari, c2--19Gem, c3--6Can b11--6Aqu, b12--18Pis, b2--6Gem, b3--23Gem
The set above, involving B MC/sun/moon/node/b saturn/c3 saturn is already Angular. Birth saturn rules B MC, conception saturn rules C MC, and c moon rules c 3rd house. Lighted saturn’s influence to two Angles and a 3rd house satisfies our rule for a mental condition to be forefront--that is, dominant--in a chart. This condition fosters depression. When her depression is not too bad, it fosters hard work. Saturn is serious. So is hard work.

That shows us her depression. Where is the mania?

Her 3rd chart has the Angle/mercury/uranus/3rd of a brilliant mind, But that is not mania. The mercury in the set turns it from mania to an especially good form of mentation (mercury). She does not have sufficient other uranus sets to suggest mania.

We want, now, to look at the condition of her 3rd chart at the time she committed suicide. That will tell us what she was experiencing at the time. We know, by her own words, that she was deeply disturbed because she thought she was again losing her mind. The afternoon of her death she donned her fur coat, walked to the river, put a heavy stone in her pocket for weight, and submerged herself, allowing herself to drown. It was the end of May in England--the water was just above freezing.

Virginia Woolf
Partial Harmonic Chart for Her 3rd House

Placidus: c11--26Aqu, c12--13Ari, c2--19Gem, c3--6Can b11--6Aqu, b12--18Pis, b2--6Gem, b3--23Gem
The above sun/moon/node/neptune/neptune in mutable signs influences a 3rd house within this chart (b3 moon co-rules b 3rd house, 13 of 19°), but not an Angle. As a set, it is not forefront because it is neither Angular nor do any of its planets rule an Angle. We could say this set is conducive to, but does not mandate, schizophrenia. In order to induce, or support, schizophrenia, it would also have to influence an Angle.

Although her 3rd chart is not that of a schizophrenic, I will refer to the above set as Woolf’s “schizophrenic set. ” We could just as easily call it her “insanity” set. Why? It was predominant, that is, forefront, (1) for one suicide attempt (when she thought she was losing her mind), (2) for one time she felt close to losing her mind, and (3) when she killed herself (when she thought she was losing her mind).

(1) On September 9, 1913, when she was 31 years old, Mrs. Woolf took an overdose of Veronal, a barbiturate, and nearly died. At the time she had:

pc mars10 Pisces 50

This fits into her schizophrenic sun/moon/node/neptune/neptune set above. Mars addition overwhelms this sensitive set, and adds paranoia (perhaps her “voices.”). The set still does not influence an Angle, so she is still without lighted neptune influence to an Angle. She gains it through a progressed Angle/neptune:

pc Asc16 Gemini 26
pc3 neptune17 Pisces 06

(2) On April 8, 1936, at age 54, when Woolf was re-working The Years, a book she found unusually difficult to write, she stated in a letter she had “never been so near the precipice of my own feeling since 1913.”(p. 660) Her biographer, Hermoine Lee writes: “The whole world seemed to her like her own sick room helplessly sitting and waiting. She had to stop work. Until the autumn she could hardly work, hardly function.” (660)

pb3 mars10 Sagittarius 38

Once again she has a progressed mars entering her schizophrenic set, which still influences a 3rd house, but not an Angle. Her double “neptunian” (neptune rules Pisces) Angular influence comes from the following:

pB MC5 Pisces 35
c mercury5 Pisces 54ruler of C Asc
pc3 NN5 Pisces 34

(3) On March 28, 1941, age 59, Virginia Woolf drowned herself. In her letter to her husband, Leonard, written days before her death, she wrote, “Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again: I feel we cant go through another of these terrible times. And I shant recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and cant concentrate...” The following are her relevant 3rd chart conditions:

pB MC10 Pisces 31
pb sun11 Pisces 49
pb3 NN11 Sagittarius 34

The above fit into her schizophrenic set, making it Angular and influencing a 3rd house. (Not too much should be made of pb3 NN as a timer because it has been there for a while. It was at 11 Sagittarius 46 in July, 1937 when her nephew, Julian, died.)

From (1), (2) and (3) above we can see Woolf’s earlier suicide attempt, the time she felt extremely close to breakdown, and her suicide all occurred when her schizophrenic set was especially stimulated either by mars accompanied by a progressed Angular neptune, or was itself forefront.

As I pointed out in the paper about John Nash’s schizophrenia, a complete breakdown usually involves both the schizophrenic set (light/neptune influencing an Angle and a 3rd house) and a progressed or long-term transiting Angle/saturn. Woolf’s Angle/saturn for her suicide was:

pC Asc15 Cancer 01
pc saturn15 Aries 18

Her 7th chart (relationships), the main chart of this method, contains the same Angle/saturn, and p C MC is at 24 Pisces 19, square pb7 mars at 24 Gemini 50 and square c7 mars at 24 Gemini 32 (the last two in b 3rd house). Together these give her Angle/mars and Angle/saturn, a situation (both mars and saturn on Angles) painful for all of us. 3rd placement of both mars, and even perhaps their sign--Gemini--represent mental agitation.

Virginia Woolf, picture from Russell McNeil Blog

One other chart is examined for mental collapse. Mrs. Woolf’s 1st chart (ego identity) has the same non-harmonic Angle/saturn, plus she has picked up an Angle/neptune--progressed B Asc is at 5 Cancer 54 and progressed b1 neptune at 5 Aries 02.. She also has:

Virginia Woolf
Partial Harmonic Chart for Her 1st House

Placidus: c11--26Aqu, c12--13Ari, c2--19Gem, c3--6Can b11--6Aqu, b12--18Pis, b2--6Gem, b3--23Gem
For the date of her suicide, progressed c mars was at 1 Aries 26, conjunct the above Aries planets. B moon in it rules c 4th house and co-rules c 3rd (11 of 18°). This shows double light/double neptune/mars influence to 3rd house and 4th houses. Since she had non-harmonic progressed Angle to saturn, and another progressed Angle/neptune, we can also consider this chart seriously afflicted at the time of her death. For her suicide, then, she had serious, that is, difficult, confusing, depressing and chaotic afflictions to charts 1, 3, and 7.

Mrs. Woolf attempted suicide one other time, when she was 22. At that time her schizophrenic set was not emphasized. Her father died in early 1904. Her suicide attempt occurred later that same year. Between June and August, 1904 she threw herself out a window. At that time her 3rd chart contained:

pc sun25 Aries 02co-ruler of c 4th house (26 of 29°)
pc saturn25 Capricorn 19ruler of C MC
pb3 mars25 Libra 19ruler of b 7th and co-ruler of b 12th house (30 of 55°)

Note these are all progressed, and all in different, cardinal signs. That fact will become more important when we look at Nijinsky’s 3rd chart.

In addition, progressed c saturn was at 11 Aries 04 in close square to B MC at 11 Capricorn 05. It is moving very slowly, and was only at 11 Aries 21 in 1906 when her brother, Thoby, died.

While I think the above sun/mars/saturn (all progressed planets) likely represents distress of some kind, I doubt it alone fostered her suicide attempt.

Conditions in her 7th chart aggravated her 3rd distress.

ruler of b 7th and co-ruler of b 12th house (30 of 55°)
pB Asc8 Gemini 56
b7 pluto8 Gemini 35
b7 mars8 Pisces 50

Her mars in Pisces is in her 11th/11th. She also had pb7 mars at 15 Pisces 35 conjunct pc7 sun (4th co-ruler) at 15 Pisces 15. One forefront and one lighted mars in Pisces indicated thoughts and feelings ranging from helplessness, to believing one’s self victimized, to seeing one’s self as hopelessly pathetic.

Was she right? Would Mrs. Woolf have become permanently insane if she had not committed suicide? Her progressed Angle to her schizophrenic set would, in a year or so, have passed away, as would her progressed Angle/saturn. That means the astrology fostering her mental distress would have returned to her chart’s background. Accordingly, that implies she would not have become permanently insane, since her insanity-to-be was based on progressions which, in time, pass away.

But, what does imply permanent insanity? We have two charts to look at. Two is not enough to conclude anything about permanent insanity. On the other hand, these two share enough in common to make them richly suggestive of “end-stage insanity.” They can raise valuable questions.

Our two are Nietzsche and Nijinsky. As far as we know--history tells us--their insanity was permanent.

Nietzsche, from 1894 Salomé frontispiece

Friedrich Nietzsche
Of the four charts discussed here, I am least comfortable with Nietzsche’s time of birth. Two birth times were given originally--10:00 a.m. and 10:07 a.m., both Local Mean Time, with 10:07 being generally accepted (see Data Acknowledgments, below).

As it turned out, after posting this paper I became more uncomfortable about the material on Nietzsche. Therefore, I put considerable time into rectifying his chart. Considerable time was required because exact dates of events in Nietzsche’s life are hard to find. Once found, they were not always useful to me.

Data used here are from the biography of his life by Lou Andreas Salomé (cited below) and from the chronology of Nietzsche’s life on the website by Malcolm B. Brown. It is located at www.dartmouth.edu/~fnchron/. Additionally, in the Salomé biography, the Introduction by Siegfried Mandel (also its editor and translator) contained a short history Nietzsche’s life.

I put information on Nietzsche’s rectification and some astrology not directly connected to his insanity in Appendix B. After returning to this document, to re-find this spot simply do a “find” for Appendix B.

Go To Appendix B

My attempts over the years to read Nietzsche’s books came to nought. This is not because he was a misogynist. Misogyny was common when I was growing up--it certainly did not constitute a reason for avoiding a writer’s work. No, it is because I find his writing outrageous. Additionally, I have always been wary of philosophy generated by an author who dies insane. Taking into consideration I cannot read him directly, I will do the best I can to represent him fairly through his astrology.

Salomé said of Nietzsche that “Nietzsche’s intellectual talent distinguished itself further [besides intellectual superiority] through two qualities...The first was his talent for subtleties...the expression he once used, “the filigree of things” to indicate how things present themselves to the knower.” And, he “habitually searched out the hidden and the secretive, drawing them into the open. With empathy and intuition, he instinctively filled the gaps left by science.” (Salomé, 35-36)

I do not know how much Nietzsche’s books have been tampered with--presumably little. His life, its facts, appear to have been seriously distorted by his sister, Elisabeth, who promoted his books after his death. Even before his death, however, she and his mother were potent “protectors” of every aspect of their “pure” Fritz.

Friedrich Nietzsche was born in 1844 in Germany. He was fatherless by the time he was four years old. His father, a pastor, died an apparently terrible death, suffering debilitation and epileptic type seizures even a year before his death. Some say he died from syphilis, but at least one doctor believed it was stroke. His father’s death left Nietzsche in the company of only women--his sister and grandmother, some aunts, and his extraordinarily pious mother (“give your heart over to dear God and Lord, and all the worldly wisdom you find in thick tomes will then be revealed to your heart and eyes as desecrations...(Salomé, xvi) (Information on his 10th chart, is in Appendix B.)

Nietzsche did well in school, read extensively, and was granted scholarships. By the time he was twenty-four he was awarded his doctorate on the basis of work already done in philology when he was hired by the University of Basel. He became a full professor--of some say philology, other say Greek language and literature--at Basel.

Like Nijinsky, Nietzsche suffered from intense headaches. As early as 1856, when he was only twelve years old, he took leave from school because of headaches. One apparent source of his headaches was his poor eyesight. He wore thick glasses. According to Sigfried Mandel, Nietzsche experienced both migraines and “migraine aura,” during which he experienced fear, hysteria, and dread of impending doom.

A second circumstance aggravated or even caused his headaches. According to Mandel, Nietzsche gave great weight to anniversaries. In 1879, on the 10th anniversary of father’s death, Nietzsche had to spend Christmas and New Year with his mother in Naumberg. It was a time he described as “the most sun-deprived winter of my life.” Mandel continues:”...but despite intermittent rages against the pious and maternal possessiveness of his mother, he was too ambivalently dependent upon her materially and emotionally to break the mannered rules of “Naumberg convention” and mutual exploitation; all too frequently, then, her presence or impending visits made him ill. During that critical time he recorded 118 days of heavy migraine attacks (Salomé, xxxix).

With so much pain, one could reasonably believe Nietzsche a man ardently desiring freedom from it. That, however, was not the case. Friedrich Nietzsche was a man who used suffering and illness--which he experienced in plenitude (see Appendix for his partial 6th chart) as a means to emotional and spiritual growth.

He told Lou Salomé...“spirit is that life which itself cuts into life: with its own suffering it increases it own knowledge. Did you know that? You only know the spark of the spirit but you do not see it as the anvil, nor see the gruesomeness of its hammer (“On the Famous Wise Men, Z, II). “That tension of the soul during misfortune...its shuddering when looking at great devastation, its inventiveness and courage in carrying burdens, enduring, interpreting, exploiting depth, mystery, mask, spiritedness, trickery, and greatness--has it not been bestowed through suffering and through the discipline of great suffering?” (Salomé 14, BGE, 225)

More alarming, we have this from Mandel: “The clue to Nietzsche’s most creative moments--as he describes matters--is the state of depersonalization in which the “It” (Es) and not the author composes. “I am neither mind nor body,” declared Nietzsche, “but a tertium quid”--another dimensional entity. That sense is particularly pervasive in Zarathustra. Deep tension, stress, and illness, Nietzsche saw as a pre-conditions for the activity of the mind. (italics mine, from Salomé, xxxviii)

So, Friedrich Nietzsche was a philologist, mastering a number of languages and their literature. He was well-read, especially in the classics and philosophy. From boyhood he was a pianist. He was gifted in composition. He wrote many philosophical books, apparently about truth and being, or perhaps the truth of being, and power. His “truth” is not the same most of us would identify with the word truth. It is not truth as fact. His truth had much more to do with feeling, with freeing Being from the shackles of various levels of conventional thought and practice. Some of his writing has been used--falsely--to support racial superiority. Speaking of false attributions, women came next. In writing about woman only as servant to man, he became labeled a misogynist. He relation to women was, in fact, complex. Nietzsche’s work, his life is comprised of complex sets of apparent oppositions. Even his mode--”Nietzsche’s life moved in continual spirals of crises, prompted by conflicts between emotions and cold calculations.”--was comprised primarily of an opposition. (Mandel, xxxvi)

On a more mundane note, the place Nietzsche's failed attempts at marriage had in contributing to his imbalance is difficult to evaluate, but, they likely made a difference. His several marriage proposals made throughout his life were rejected. Moreover his last, a bid for Lou Andreas-Salomé, was replete with irony. The man famous for his concepts of the superman and the will-to-power stayed tied to his mother's apron strings. Salome was far more the independent and autonomous individual Nietzsche pretended to be. (Go to Appendix B for more on this.)

Friedrich Nietzsche was declared insane in January, 1889, at age 44, and stayed that way until his death in 1900. So...permanently insane. Let’s take a look at his astrology.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Partial Harmonic Chart for His 3rd House

Placidus: c11--23Sco, c12--10Sag, c2--29Aqu, c3--10Ari b11--0 Lib, b12--21Lib, b2--10Sag, b3--23Cap
Before commenting on his insanity, the above partial chart shows mercury conjunct saturn in Capricorn. In his 7th chart (discussed below again) he also has b7 moon conjunct that c pluto in Pisces. The one set versus the other generated Nietzsche’s “continual spirals of crises, prompted by conflicts between emotions and cold calculations.” They are not the only sponsors of such savage swings, but are certainly part sponsors.

Looking at the astrology of his insanity, Nietzsche has a conjunction of moon, mars, and neptune in Capricorn. Mars rules B Asc, neptune rules b 4th, and moon rules b 9th. All are in b 3rd house, so this set has Angle/3rd influence of light/mars/neptune for paranoid schizophrenia. Mars distance from the moon and neptune means the two groups would separate during progressions, making him more schizophrenic, less paranoid. He does not have (harmonic) lighted neptune on an Angle, a condition more permanently (or globally) schizophrenic, and one which would have introduced schizophrenia into he life earlier.

If we did not like it that all three planets in his schizoid set are harmonic, we could use his c neptune, which is at 27 Capricorn 14, and is also part of his paranoid schizophrenic set (but we would lose the 4th house influence of his b3 neptune, a fact which may have significance).

I used January 15, 1889 for all Nietzsche’s charts to examine them for his end-stage insanity. I started out only with “January, 1889.” Later, I learned he was first hospitalized on January 10 after acquaintances raised alarm about him because of the wildness of his letters. The difference is not big enough to re-work his charts. So, January 15, 1889, his 3rd chart contained the following important afflictions:

(a)pb3 sun9 Capricorn 54co-ruler of b 9th house (30 of 39°)
pC Asc9 Aries 13
pc saturn9 Capricorn 01ruler of C Asc
pc mercury9 Capricorn 32ruler of c 6th and co-ruler of c 8th houses


(b)b3 neptune22 Capricorn 11 Rruler of b 4th house
b3 moon22 Capricorn 21ruler of b 9th house
pb3 neptune22 Capricorn 4ruler of b 4th house
pc moon23 Capricorn 15ruler of c 7th house
pb3 saturn22 Libra 26ruler of b 3rd house

In addition, he had:

(c)pB Asc10 Sagittarius 55
b uranus10 Pisces 58co-ruler of b 3rd house (30 of 39°) in b 4th house

Astrology is a discipline immersed in the use of symbols. Once identified, this method of astrology has produced consistent symbol sets for various conditions and events. There are two exceptions. They involve uranus in the two signs, Scorpio and Pisces. In those signs they can at times, all by themselves, be a concentrated cipher for the usual symbol set for a condition. For instance, death of an individual is always accompanied by conditions A, B, C (Angles, planets, 4th house conditions) in whichever chart most represents death. I have seen several--not a lot, but enough--times when A, B, and C did not exist in any chart, only Angle to Uranus in Scorpio (I cannot remember if house was significant.) These were charts in which time of birth was likely correct. Date of death was known. The point of this paragraph is that the above set represents my reasonable suspicion that, given other (non-progressed) influences in Nietzsche’s charts, his progressed Angle to uranus in Pisces (with 3rd and 4th influence) is the cipher substitute for the more frequent A,B,C of the onset of schizophrenia. And even if, in the final analysis, his end-problem was not produced by schizophrenia but by tertiary syphilis (see Appendix), uranus in Pisces is still likely acting as the cipher for more usual significators for tertiary syphilis.

So, note Nietzsche does not have a progressed Angle/neptune, which is usual in this chart for schizophrenic episodes. (c), I believe, is its substitute. It suggests the sudden (uranus) dissolution (Pisces) of his mind (3rd) for the end of his life (4th).

In (b) his progressed saturn to that set gave it a second 3rd house emphasis, further destabilizing his mind.

Finally, Nietzsche was in Turin when he lost his sanity. His progressed locality conception Midheaven was at 25 Pisces 45; his progressed conception mars, ruler of C MC and c 3rd house, at 25 Pisces 58 conjunct it. We saw a similar situation with progressed locality Angle to mars in Pisces in the chart of Charles Whitman.

I will not show his 1st chart here. It is not seriously afflicted. He does not qualify--on the basis of standard indicators for schizophrenia--as a screaming schizophrenic. His 1st chart contains a weak (large orb) moon/mars/saturn conjunction in Taurus at the end of c 4th and beginning of c 5th houses. With influence to b 3rd and B Asc, it is forefront enough, coupled with progressed affliction, to turn this chart into one that supports a schizophrenic episode. Reminder: We do not need neptune affliction in the 1st chart. This chart’s contribution to insanity comes from mars and saturn affliction, indicative of turbulence in the individual’s identity. Neptune Angular in the 1st is connected to drugs and allergies.

Indeed, on January 15, 1889 Nietzsche’s 1st chart contained the following important affliction:

pb mars3 Libra 36ruler of B Asc
pb1 mercury3 Capricorn 18
c saturn3 Capricorn 45ruler of C Asc

and he had pb1 saturn, ruler of b 3rd house, at 1 Gemini 28, squaring B MC at 1 Virgo 50. So, his 1st chart at the time was carrying an extra load of mars and saturn.

The above demonstrates Nietzsche has astrology we know promotes (if not mandates) schizophrenia in others. It is at least reasonable to assume it could have promoted schizophrenia in him. Schizophrenics, however, do not always stay schizophrenic. Is there something else in Nietzsche’s chart suggesting permanent, as opposed to temporary, insanity?

Well, as with Woolf’s chart, we once again have a mental affliction influencing both 3rd and 4th houses, with possible implications a mental condition (3rd) will prevail at the end of life (4th). Nietzsche, however, has other suggestive afflictions.

He has even more 3rd/4th affliction. Looking at his partial 3rd chart above, do you see his c pluto in Pisces late in his b 4th house? Let’s look at how it plays (forms new interactions because of harmonics) in some his other harmonic charts.

In all his charts it is opposed by b sun (non-harmonic) at 29 Virgo 33 (9th co-ruler, 30 of 39°). By itself, it does not indicate permanent mental disability. It suggests deep (pluto) higher mental (9th) sorrow (Pisces), at the end of his life (4th), but not necessarily insanity.
In his 1st chart that c pluto in Pisces is still in the 4th house and is conjunct c1 sun 28 Pisces 38 (ruler of c 8th house and co-ruler of c 7th house, 27 of 57°). It suggests extreme (pluto) loss of sense of self (sun) in his relations with others (7th and 8th houses). This occurs at the level of his self-identity (1st chart).
More ominously, in Nietzsche’s 7th chart that same pluto (still in the 4th house) is closely conjunct b7 moon at 28 Pisces 13 (ruler of b 9th and co-ruler of b 8th house, 22 of 43°). That puts his Pisces moon is in his 4th house. Moon in Pisces is hard enough. Moon in Pisces in the 4th house conjunct pluto suggests profound (pluto) sorrow (moon in Pisces) or dissociation (moon in Pisces). In his 7th chart, it implies he is so profoundly (pluto) immersed in dissociation (Pisces) he has lost his connection to others (7th). I can only guess the meaning of its 9th house influence--has he lost his connection to higher mind, or did he take a profound trip there, leaving the rest of us behind?

We saw an afflicted 3rd, 4th, 8th, and 9th essential in Alzheimer’s--a condition in which the individual suffers, not insanity, but nonetheless a profound abandonment of mind. Here we have an afflicted 4th, 8th, and 9th accompanying a separate 3rd affliction.. The former may be involved in permanent insanity.

Vaslav Nijinsky also went permanently insane. He shared two of Nietzsche’s astrological conditions and differed considerably otherwise. So let’s move on to Nijinsky’s 3rd chart.

Nijinsky, 1909
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Vaslav Nijinsky
I did not rectify Nijinsky’s chart. The time given for his birth was suitable for his marriage and the birth of his two daughters, Kyra and Tamara. The time given is superb for his intense sensual and sexual magnetism when dancing (see footnote 1, below).

Few people alive today have ever seen Nijinsky perform. Because of that, I have created an appendix which contains several excerpts from the book about him by his wife, Romola. They aid in understanding Nijinsky’s truly remarkable abilities.

Go To Appendix C

The diagnosis given Nijinsky’s wife was that her husband was schizophrenic. Over the years she took him to many specialists. Schizophrenia was the usual diagnosis. Today, matching his symptoms to the list in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Nijinsky has more than enough points to qualify him as schizophrenic. So, let’s look at his charts. Does he, like Nietzsche, have a schizophrenic 3rd chart?

Vaslav Nijinsky
Partial Harmonic Chart for His 3rd House

Placidus: c11--22Vir, c12--14Lib, c2--3Sag, c3--13Cap b11--5Vir, b12--30Vir, b2--17Sco, b3--24Sag
I cannot show something that is not there. Nijinsky does not have the schizophrenic set of light/neptune (or light/mars/neptune for paranoid schizophrenia) influencing an Angle and a 3rd house. (1) B MC is square both non-harmonic neptunes, with no implications about his mind C3 sun makes a weak light to them, but sun is not usually the light in schizophrenia. Neither sun nor neptune rule 3rd houses.

(2) B3 neptune squares C MC. It has stronger implications than (1) of sponsoring some schizoid states, but it is not lighted, once again making it weak, and it does not influence 3rd houses.

Light/Angle Nijinsky does have c moon at 19 Libra 17 conjunct B Asc at 18 Libra 21. That moon--perpetually on an Angle, may act to some extent as a light for (2) above. Even without being in set (2), lights act as conductors of planetary energy, moon on his Ascendant could act to increase the potency of Nijinsky’s weakly schizophrenic chart.

Nijinsky does not, however, have neptune (lighted or unlighted) influencing 3rd houses in his 3rd chart. He does not so much need the 3rd house influence (since this is a 3rd chart) if the “Light/Angle” condition above prevails. If it does, and if his 1st chart is afflicted enough, especially by saturn, cutting off feelings, then this chart supports schizophrenia.

On the other hand, Nijinsky has strong signs ruling his 3rd houses. (1) C 3rd has Capricorn on the cusp and Aquarius in it. These signs are ruled by saturn and uranus respectively. With the proper sets, he could be manic-depressive, but he does not have them. (2) He has Sagittarius on the cusp of b 3rd house, and Capricorn finishing it. They are ruled by jupiter and saturn, respectively. Unless he has a strongly afflicted saturn (ruler of Capricorn) his 3rd houses are strong. In fact, birth and conception 3rd houses contain three South Nodes in Capricorn--sign of a strong, ordered, controlled mind. In his c 3rd alone he has mercury in Aquarius, also good mentally.

So far, Nijinsky has a 3rd chart astrology which could sponsor schizoid states. I doubt it mandates them. It does not suggest permanent insanity. What does?

(1) Nijinsky, like Nietzsche, has a Pisces moon/4th influence. Nijinsky’s is in both 4th houses, co-rules b 9th house, and is in all charts (because non-harmonic). In none of them, however, does it acquire the ominous stress from other planets, like uranus or pluto in Pisces, as does Nietzsche’s. Still, it is a Pisces moon in the 4th with rulership over the 9th, just like Nietzsche. Because it is non-harmonic, Nijinsky’s Pisces moon does not have a specifically 3rd chart implication.
(2) Nijinsky, like Nietzsche, has uranus in Pisces in a 4th--his in both 4ths-- and it co-rules c 3rd house (22 of 39°). Nijinsky’s, however, is harmonic, so only in his 3rd chart, while Nietzsche had his in all charts.

Are (1) and (2) above, combined with his weakly schizoid chart, enough to render Nijinsky permanently insane? I do not yet know. Does he have other 3rd chart afflictions? He does:

(a)c3 mars20 Gemini 13
c3 pluto22 Gemini 59
c saturn27 Gemini 20ruler of c 3rd house
b3 sun27 Gemini 46ruler of B MC

Note these are in Gemini, the natural sign of the 3rd house and the sign most associated with mentation because it is ruled by mercury. Sun and saturn are in c 8th/ b 9th house.

Pluto is nearly out of orb (almost 5° away from his sun), but it is progressing slowly toward it. His sun conjunct saturn influences both an Angle (sun rules B MC) and a 3rd house (saturn rules c 3rd house). I included his mars in set (a) even though it is out of orb. This set might be representative of a “fault.” Indeed, when another mars progresses to his sun/saturn/(pluto) (shown just after a' below) he is in trouble mentally.

But c3 mars is actually part of another set:

(a')c3 mars20 Gemini 13ruler of C Asc, c 6th, and co-ruler of c 5th houses
b3 pluto19 Gemini 58
c3 mercury20 Virgo 55ruler of c 8 and 11th houses
b uranus22 Virgo 59ruler of b 4th house

This mars/pluto in Gemini has both Angular and 4th house influence. While I do not believe it responsible for his permanent insanity, it could have added to it. Then mars in Gemini would represent disturbed (mars) mental states (Gemini). Pluto would add a disinclination to communicate, a turning back of his mind upon itself.

In Nijinsky by Vera Krasovskaya, she states that by March 22, 1918 Nijinsky’s wife knew “something was wrong” with Nijinsky. (p. 337)

On March 22, 1918 Nijinsky had [add (a) above to (b) just below]:

(b)pb mars28 Virgo 22 Retrograde
pc3 pluto26 Gemini 11 D

If we say pluto is close enough to be conjunct his sun/saturn, now Nijinsky has a sun/saturn/pluto in Gemini starting to be afflicted by progressed mars, the whole with influence to a 3rd house and an Angle.

During the time his mind was disintegrating, Nijinsky by Krasovskaya stated Nijinsky was experiencing moments of perspicacity followed by periods of depression often caused by terrible headaches. (337). Nijinsky by Romola Nijinsky emphasized Nijinsky’s innumerable, terrible headaches. Mars to sun/saturn in Gemini suggests the further breakdown (mars) of some mental (Gemini) weakness (saturn).

Progressed birth mars had reached 28 Virgo 03 R, in close square to his sun/saturn in Gemini, on January (15), 1919 when, according to the editor of Nijinsky’s “Diary,” he fell apart altogether.

We saw the damage saturn/pluto forefront in the 1st and 3rd charts does in autism. Footnote 2, below, explores another type of saturn/pluto damage emphasized in an entirely different chart.

But that is not all. Nijinsky has another difficult set in his 3rd chart.

Vaslav Nijinsky
Partial Harmonic Chart for His 3rd House

Placidus: c11--22Vir, c12--14Lib, c2--3Sag, c3--13Cap b11--5Vir, b12--30Vir, b2--17Sco, b3--24Sag
The above lighted set involves double mars and double saturn, as well as mercury. B3 moon co-rules b 9th house (30 of 39°), and b saturn co-rules b 3rd house (30 of 39°). On March 22, 1918, he had progressed c3 mars at 7 Libra 05, adding another mars, but more importantly, influence to an Angle (c3 mars rules C Asc). (Had he started out with this set plus the progressed mars, he would have a strong 3rd chart for mental retardation.)

Nijinsky, but not Nietzsche, has a 3rd chart in which mars and saturn dominate and in which sun/saturn/pluto in Gemini influences an Angle and a 3rd house. Nijinsky was not schizophrenic, or at least not primarily schizophrenic. He had some other mental (or brain) problem. We just do not know, yet, what it was.

Likely, once his mars to sun/saturn had done its damage, then his schizoid potential became more influential. And, then his 3rd/4th house uranus in Pisces and his harmonic Pisces moon (3rd chart only) could have their more dire implications of permanently uncomfortable states of mute (Pisces) suffering (Pisces), i.e., insanity. Once

We should look at his 1st chart.

In his 1st chart Nijinsky has--to show one set--

c sun19 Taurus 33ruler of C MC and co-ruler c 9th (22 of 39°)
b1 mars19 Leo 45
b1 saturn20 Scorpio 09ruler of c 3rd

Once again, we see affliction, this time light/mars/saturn to 3rd and 9th houses. His b1 saturn started out retrograde, turned direct, and progressed back to 19 Scorpio 37 on March 22, 1918.

Nijinsky’s two most important charts for his mental breakdown, his 1st and 3rd, are influenced heavily by lighted mars/saturn influence to 3rds and Angles. His 3rd chart contains the additional sun/saturn/pluto in Gemini hit by progressed mars which also influenced 3rds and Angle. Lighted neptune, that is, schizophrenia was not his problem. Unlike Virginia Woolf, Nijinsky did not have neptune predominant (even if we vary his birth time reasonably plus or minus), that is, forefront at the time he lost his mind.

Van Gogh, self-portrait, 1888

Vincent Van Gogh
I could not find enough dates for types of events I use to rectify Van Gogh’s chart. I believe the given time is his actual time of birth, or very close to it.

I have created Appendix D for some of Van Gogh's astrology not so germane to his mental health.

Go To Appendix D

So far, we have covered three individuals. Virginia Woolf believed she was going permanently insane, so committed suicide. Vincent Van Gogh also committed suicide. Before his suicide, he had had several mental breakdowns, all apparently schizophrenic. However, when he killed himself, did he believe he was going insane? He did not. On his deathbed, he said to his brother, Theo, ‘“Don’t weep. What I have done was best for all of us.” He brother tried to console him. But he answered, “No use. I shall never be rid of this depression.”’ (p. 238) He shot himself in the groin on July 27, and died on the 29.

Let’s look at his chart.

Vincent Van Gogh
Partial Harmonic Chart for His 3rd House

Placidus: c11--8Sag, c12--27Sag, c2--27Pis, c3--29Ari b11--7Ari, b12--22Tau, b2--14Can, b3--3Leo
Van Gogh does have C MC in a set with non-harmonic neptunes and harmonic c3 moon at 21 Taurus 24. This gives him Angle/light/neptune in his 3rd chart, with specifically mental (3rd) implications. The set does not influence 3rd houses. He has the reverse of Woolf’s set (which influenced 3rds but not Angles). Of the two, Van Gogh’s is the more schizophrenic chart because even without influence to 3rd houses within the chart, this set has specific 3rd house (because 3rd chart) implications. We could say it is also semi-schizophrenic, turning schizophrenic when Van Gogh--either in life or astrologically--was stressed enough.

This set matures over time. On October 14, 1889, when he “went mad and was considered dangerous” pb neptune was at 20 Aquarius 36, still squaring C MC, but pb5 uranus was at 20 Aquarius 53 (coming from 10 Aquarius 36 at birth), and transiting mars (7 p.m. MET) at 20 Leo 10. The latter two stressed, set off, or activated his Angle/light/neptune. The closeness of all of these to 20° of the fixed signs (and aspecting his C MC) supports his given time of birth as correct.

Both Van Gogh’s harmonic neptunes are in c 3rd house, but neither is lighted. They became lighted intermittently, with the longer exposure being by a progressed sun (about one year) or progressed nodes (could last years).

B sun, however, rulerof b 3rd house, is in Pisces. That gives him a “lighted neptune” influence to b 3rd.

So, we can say Van Gogh, after all, had a schizophrenic 3rd chart.

Moreover, he has b3 moon in Pisces (ruling 2nd house--hard to know what to make of that.). I have written before in papers, harmonic malefics (mars and saturn), as well as lights--suns, moons and nodes--in Pisces imply that chart will bring the individual painful experiences. They are Piscean in the sense the individual feels either little able to change them or they are a complete surprise. Since they are generated by the harmonic, they are specific to the chart they occur in, bringing tests and sorrow to the matters covered by that chart. In Van Gogh’s 3rd chart, a progression of an Angle to his Pisces moon, especially since he already has Angle/light/neptune, would be a stressor which could precipitate schizophrenia. As it turned out, for one of them , progressed C MC in Sagittarius squaring his Pisces moon, he was staying with his family at Nuenen. As nearly an outcast with them, it was a particularly miserable time for him, but he did not have a psychotic breakdown.

In Elgar’s biography, which draws extensively on Van Gogh’s continuous correspondence, it becomes clear that for all his mental imbalance, Van Gogh demonstrated a strong, ordered mind. Even his many self-portraits throughout his illness show considerable objectivity. He was willing to endure his schizophrenia as long as he could continue painting. That could be put in reverse: as long as Van Gogh could paint, his could keep his schizophrenia somewhat in check. In fact he produced considerable art even during times he was institutionalized. And he was painting productively at the time he shot himself.

Well, Van Gogh himself stated it was his depression, not his madness, he could no longer endure. What in his charts shows depression?

In his 3rd chart Van Gogh’s birth sun in Pisces is conjunct c3 saturn in Pisces, a depressive influence. The full set for birth sun is:

b sun16 Pisces 58ruler of b 3rd house
c1 saturn16 Pisces 34ruler of C Asc
c NN15 Gemini 16
c3 NN16 Gemini 19
c3 mercury15 Virgo 47
c3 jupiter16 Virgo 05ruler of c 11th and c 12th houses
b3 mercury14 Sagittarius 38ruler of B Asc

This set influences two Angles and a 3rd house. It also contains two mercuries. They may have helped turn the depression of his sun/saturn in Pisces into hard work. With jupiter as part of it, likely Van Gogh went from hope and optimism (jupiter) to pessimism and despair (saturn).

is there more depression? There is.

b3 saturn26 Pisces 26d>ruler of b 3rd house
b3 SN28 Pisces 54
B Asc28 Gemini 28

The above set influences an Angle and a 3rd house, and is a powerful depressive influence, the kind that could make an individual say, “it is no use, I will never be free from this depression.”

On July 27, 1890, the day he shot himself, Van Gogh had:

(1) Progressed b mercury (ruler of B Asc) was at 27 Pisces 27, conjoining his the midpoint of his saturn/South Node in Pisces, above. (It was at 26 Pisces 48 conjunct his saturn on October 14, 1889 when he “went mad and was considered dangerous.”)
(2) Progressed C MC was at 26 Sagittarius 28, in close square to his b3 saturn at 26 Pisces 26.
(3) Progressed b3 south node was at 16 Pisces 01, conjoining his sun/saturn conjunction in Pisces. Note this gives him three nodes to his Pisces sun conjunction saturn.

Movement of pb3 SN, in (3) above, during Van Gogh’s life was as follows :

DateProgressed b3 South Node
7-27-188617 Pisces 59
7-27-188717 Pisces 35
7-27-188817 Pisces 05
7-27-188916 Pisces 32
7-27-1890shown above, year of his death
7-27-189115 Pisces 31

Progressing harmonics of outer planets and nodes can move very slowly, taking years to pass over one degree. Given a one degree orb of influence before and after conjunction to his birth sun, Van Gogh’s pb3 SN was lighting his sun/saturn in Pisces from 1886 to1891, after which time he would have been clear of its influence. That amounts to five years additional emphasis on the depressed part of his 3rd chart. (see Footnote 3).

Let’s take a closer look at Van Gogh’s “unfortunate” Pisces sun.

In his 1st chart his b sun, ruler of his b 3rd house, was again in trouble. It was conjunct c1 uranus as 13 Pisces 58, b1 uranus (ruler of b 9th house) at 12 Pisces 21, and c1 SN at 15 Pisces 47. This represents a strong tendency (SN) to upheaval (uranus) or fear of upheaval (Pisces) with negative consequences (if nothing worse than they create a feeling of impending doom).

In his 4th chart, the same birth sun is again afflicted. It is conjunct b4 saturn at 19 Pisces 44. This is noteworthy because of his difficult relationship with his father, who rarely approved, and almost always found fault with him. In his letter to academically trained artist van Rappard, who had criticized him, Van Gogh wrote, “Don’t suppose that you are the only person to believe or ever to have believed it a duty to criticize me to the point of crushing me out of existence. On the contrary, something like that has been my lot, so far.” (67)

Does the sun’s 3rd rulership then represent mental suffering (and really low self esteem) caused by all these afflictions to it?

We are not finished with his Pisces sun. Alas for Van Gogh! In his 5th chart it is in a set with:

b sun16 Pisces 58
b7 saturn13 Pisces 01
b7 neptune16 Sagittarius 51
c7 NN16 Pisces 51

Note we have switched back to harmonic saturn in Pisces is once again coming from birth saturn, while in his 3rd chart is was coming from conception saturn. While planets conjunct the NN are usually good [it is not always possible to know their growth (NN) purpose], this conjunction of NN/sun/saturn in Pisces suggests Van Gogh debases himself sexually. (see Footnote 4)

Those who read the paper on Alzheimer’s disease will see a certain similarity between their charts and some Nijinsky’s and Nietzsche’s astrology. All have afflicted 3rd/4th/9th influences suggesting both higher (9th) and lower minds (3rd) become severely dysfunctional or are even wiped out toward the ends of their lives (4th). (Alzheimer’s also included an 8th influence.)

Nietzsche, however, achieved his insanity through neptune and Pisces/4th influences. Nijinsky’s was more through mercury(or Gemini)/mars/saturn, if, indeed, that was insanity. Uranus in Pisces ruling or co-ruling a 3rd house and in the 4th house in the 3rd chart occurred for both individuals. Nijinsky’s uranus in Pisces, however, occurred only in his 3rd chart, while Nietzsche’s occurred in all charts. In different charts, pluto also played a part in their demise. Nietzsche had moon conjunct pluto in Pisces in his 7th chart. Nijinsky’s sun/saturn/progressed pluto were in Gemini in his 3rd chart. Both had moon in Pisces in at least one 4th house, but Nijinsky had it in all charts while Nietzsche’s was only in his 7th chart. In both cases it ruled or co-ruled a 9th house.

I can call to mind only one other Pisces moon influence to the 4th house (end of life). It occurred in the chart of L. Ron Hubbard. His c moon is at 16 Pisces 25, (occurring in all charts), and in b 3rd/c 4th house. It co-rules c 8th house (30 of 41°). Its 7th chart harmonic is also in Pisces, at 27 Pisces 41, and is in both c and b 4th houses, and is in a set with:

b venus23 Pisces 28ruler of b 7th house
b7 mars24 Gemini 15ruler of B Asc
c neptune24 Gemini 12ruler of c 4th house and co-ruler of c 3rd house (14 of 34°)
b neptune25 Gemini 21ruler of b 4th house and co-ruler of b 3rd house (20 of 36°)
c7 mercury25 Gemini 33ruler of C MC
c mars26 Gemini 32ruler of C Asc
c7 venus23 Virgo 23ruler of c 7th house
c7 mars28 Virgo 48ruler of C Asc

The above set has multiple influence to Angles and, through his two non-harmonic neptunes, influence to 3rd houses. And it has 4th house influence. But this is in his 7th chart. It is not an indication he was schizophrenic. I understand he was not schizophrenic, but he sure was paranoid at the end of his life. I do not know if his feeling he was being persecuted by various U.S. agencies was fact or fancy.

To show something positive about Pisces, I have put a lovely Pisces stellium, from the chart of John Blofeld, Taoist, in footnote 5, below. It does not contain moon in Pisces. It does, however, reflect the positive power of benefics in Pisces conjunction NN.

Returning to Nijinsky, his astrology is different from either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

I do not now have the data I once had for a boy born without a corpus callosum. Memory tells me he had mercury/mars/saturn influence to Angles and 3rds in his 1st chart, and either mars/saturn or mars/pluto or saturn/pluto conjunct in Gemini conjunct his MC in his 3rd chart.

Nietzsche appears to have had schizophrenia “plus,” the plus involving interpretations of his 4th moon in Pisces (in his 7th chart), and his oft-lighted pluto in Pisces in his 4th.

As for Van Gogh, he was right. He would never be rid of his depression. At the time of his suicide, he was, however, like William Styron, carrying an extra heavy (progressed) saturn load. In time--say another six to nine months--he would have been rid of much, relative to his own norm, of his saturnian excess. Since he was born with and used to the original B Asc/node/saturn in Pisces in this chart, chances are he would have felt able to function--do his art--once the saturnine progressions passed.

As I have stated before, however, when things get as dark astrologically as they did for Van Gogh at the time he shot himself, the conditions carries with it a belief things will never improve.

And, once again, was Virginia Woolf correct? Would she, had she not committed suicide, have permanently lost her mind?

I covered part of this in her section--she would, without lifting a finger, have progressed out of her schizophrenic set and past her progressed C Asc to progressed c saturn. The major perpetrator of her insanity would have evaporated.

To address her question further, Mrs. Woolf did not have conditions shared by Nijinsky and Nietzsche. That is,

She did not have a moon in Pisces. If she had had one, it would have ruled her 4th house, and either ruled or co-ruled her 3rd house. It would certainly have gotten my attention. (Her only moon in Pisces is c11 in her 11th chart, conjunct b11 venus).
She did not have uranus in Pisces with 3rd/4th influence.
She does have a 3rd/4th house overlap, but no malefics therein in any of the charts of drew up (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 10th, 11th, and 12th)..
Her schizophrenic set, forefront for her suicide, did have both 3rd and 4th house influences. Did that mean, however, that she was permanently (4th) losing her mind (3rd) or only that she would believe it during the time that set was forefront? I tend toward the latter explanation. That does not, however, take anything away from her conviction her impending insanity was permanent. All her evidence pointed to that truth.

In this paper I have demonstrated several changes for the “history” of these individuals.

Virginia Woolf’s manic depression has been separated from her insanity, the latter having been verified as the reason for her suicide.
Nietzsche’s schizophrenia has been verified, but we are waiting to find out the final significance of all his Pisces/4th influences.
Nijinsky’s main mental problem was not schizophrenia, but related to his saturn conjunct pluto in Gemini which had both Angular and 3rd influence. In her biography, Romola Nijinsky pointed out that Nijinsky was far more present than end-stage schizophrenia would imply. Perhaps his mars progression to his sun/saturn/pluto conjunction in Gemini had an interpretation of an event involving physical pathology of the brain. Perhaps it also had a meaning that mars activated in him his extreme reluctance (or perhaps sense of hopelessness about, both saturn/pluto) to communicate (Gemini). That would not be impossible. His experience with Diaghilev ended far more disastrously than he had anticipated. His ability to manage his own affairs and his own company fell way short of functional.

The question could be asked, with both Nijinsky and Nietzsche suffering severe pre-insanity headaches, and both having a fair amount of mercury/mars/saturn affliction, did they have the same disease? Both may have suffered some neurological disorder, but right now I believe Nijinsky’s sun/saturn/pluto conjunction in Gemini in his 3rd chart disconnects his neurology from Nietzsche’s.

Van Gogh’s schizophrenia has been separated from his depression. His depression has been verified as the reason for his suicide.

With all these Pisces lights, the question could be asked, what about psychic abilities? The 7th chart contains indicators of psychic abilities. Looking in the 7th of these individuals, those whose 7th chart specifically spun out Pisces lights were Nietzsche, Hubbard, and Van Gogh. Also, Hubbard, Nijinsky, Van Gogh and Blofeld all had non-harmonic lights in Pisces. These incline toward psychic abilities. Lighted neptune influence to a 3rd house is a second is the other indicator. The paper on psychics spells out some of the trickiness of forefront neptune.

Wood Forget-Me-Not

Footnote 1
The enormous sexual and sensual magnetism of Nijinsky are in his harmonic chart for his 1st house, likely indicating it is a property of his body identity (1st chart)--something his body “knows” how to do--rather than something elicited by or for others (7th chart).

B MC3 Leo 00
C Asc1 Scorpio 09
c1 venus3 Scorpio 07ruler of c 7th and c12th houses
b1 moon4 Scorpio 26co-ruler of b 9th house
b neptune4 Taurus 27ruler of b 5th house
c neptune4 Taurus 51ruler of c 5th house

His 1st, 5th, 7th, and two Angles are influenced by moon/venus/neptune, with moon and venus conjunct in Scorpio. Pretty powerful!! I suspect, but do not know, their occurrence in his 1st chart are signs of what he can do with his body, another 1st chart meaning.

He also, however, has Angle/node/venus in his 3rd chart, and Angle/moon/venus in his 7th chart. The latter is a set for charismatic individuals. Nijinsky may have shut his off when socializing, but he could bring it forefront at will when working.

Footnote 2
The damage for Mr. G., now 62, shows up in a different chart. As a young man--I don’t even know what age, before kindergarten--he had an illness with a very high fever. It left him brain damaged. He shares many qualities with retarded individuals--their limitations and their sometimes incredible sweetness. Since his birth time was given me only as “between 2 and 2:30 p.m.,” and I have no event data on him, I can write only about sets including planets which rule Angles, not planets on Angles. That is sufficient, however, to show what I want to show about forefront saturn/pluto. The data below is for a 2:15 p.m. chart.

Mr. G’s main, non-harmonic (all charts) saturn/pluto set includes the following:

(a)b jupiter6 Aries 53ruler or co-ruler of b 4th house
c saturn7 Aries 22ruler of C MC
c SN8 Aries 32
b pluto6 Cancer 59
c pluto7 Cancer 41
b moon10 Libra 59ruler of b 11th house

His 1st and 3rd charts do not add significant harmonics to set (a).

His 7th chart does [add (a) to (b)]:

(b)b7 mars7 Aries 36ruler of b 4th and 9th; co-ruler of b 3rd houses (28 of 34° for 2:15)
c7 saturn6 Libra 21ruler of C MC and co-ruler of c 9th house
c7 pluto9 Capricorn 08

In his 7th chart his node/saturn/pluto has become a forefront mental influence because 3rd house influence has been pulled into the set.

Note how close are his mars, saturn, and conception pluto. Progressing c South Node, which I suspect was at least one of the timers for his illness and its consequent devastation, moved as follows:

Conception Agepc South Node
57 Aries 48
67 Aries 43
77 Aries 41
107 Aries 42
157 Aries 13
206 Aries 27

His 12th chart, however, most emphasizes his original node/saturn/pluto. It contains the following harmonics [add (a) to (c)]:

(c)c12 moon9 Capricorn 32ruler of c 3rd and 4th houses
b12 uranus8 Aries 53(ruler of b 6th house)
b12 sun6 Cancer 08ruler of b 12th house
c12 mercury7 Cancer 53 Rruler of c 2nd and co-ruler of c 5th houses

In his 12th chart, his node/saturn/pluto/(moon) which already had Angular influence picked up two lights, a mercury, and a uranus. The lights made the set much more powerful. I suspect the significance of mercury is not its house rulership, but the fact it is mercury, a planet intimately associated with mentation. Uranus suggests the set will become activated suddenly.

Now that I have brought up Mr. G’s chart, I want to add another set with interesting harmonic ramifications. In his all-charts, he had the following really lovely set:

(d)c moon13 Gemini 32ruler of c 3rd and 4th houses
b venus14 Gemini 10ruler B MC and b 3rd house
c jupiter14 Pisces 25ruler of c 8th house

In his 7th chart (d) acquires only harmonic benefics and lights. Accordingly, looking just at it I would have concluded--even though he had a node/saturn/pluto problem of nearly equal influence--he was at least some times very witty and bright. He is not an idiot savant. He does have a good memory for music listens to it on the radio continuously.

In his 12th chart, however, the set acquires the following harmonics [add (d) to (e)]:

(e)c12 saturn13 Gemini 12ruler of CMC and c 9th house
c12 mars13 Virgo 29ruler of c 7th and 12th houses and co-ruler of c 6th (20 of 44°)
b12 neptune14 Sagittarius 12 Rruler of b 8th and co-ruler of b 7th (24of 25°) houses

His truly marvelous moon/venus/jupiter set has acquired “siege conditions” (mars/saturn/neptune) in his 12th chart.

Footnote 3
At the time of his death, Van Gogh had another progressed Angle to saturn. It was simultaneously aspecting jupiter, so, in a sense, canceled itself out.

Footnote 4
Van Gogh had Angles influenced by harmonic mars and saturn, venus and jupiter in his 5th chart. Small surprise he wanted to normalize his sex life through stable relationship, even relationship with an unfortunate local woman. The benefic influences supported it, while the malefics thwarted it.

Footnote 5
Here is Blofeld’s Pisces set from his 7th chart:

c7 jupiter9 Pisces 03ruler of c 3rd house
b mercury9 Pisces 20ruler of b 6th and 7th houses and co-ruler of 8th house
b NN9 Pisces 36
b7 pluto11 Pisces 01
c7 venus25 Gemini 33ruler of C Asc in b 9th house
c sun8 Gemini 15co-ruler of c 10th house (30 of 33°)

His sun and node help bring that straying venus back into his Pisces stellium. Note this set influences 3rd, 8th, and 9th houses as well as an Angle. Blofeld was a Taoist who traveled extensively in the East, with apparent carte blanche into many monasteries and who wrote about his experiences. His 9th chart contains a conjunction of sun/venus/jupiter in Gemini.

Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

Lou Salomé--Nietzsche, edited, translated and with an introduction by Siegfreid Mandel. Redding Ridge, CT:Black Swan Books, 1988.

Nijinsky by Vera Krasovskaya, translated from the Russian by John E. Bowlt. New York: Schirmer Books, a Division of Macmillan Publishing Co., 1979. First published in Russian in Leningrad, 1974.

Nijinsky by Romola Nijinsky. Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada: Pocket Book, December, 1971. Originally published by Simon & Schuster, 1934.

Van Gogh: A Study of His Life and Work by Frank Elgar, translated from the French by James Cleugh. New York: Frederick A. Praeger Publishers (a Praeger World of Art Profile), 1958. First published in Paris, France, 1958.

Data Acknowledgments
Virginia Adeline Stephen Woolf (A)
Birth: 1/25/1882, 12:15 p.m. GMT, London, England. From Astrodatabank.com by Lois Rodden and Mark McDonough. Frances McEvoy quotes an English friend who grew up as a Bloomsbury child, “soon after noon.”
Rectified Birth: 1/25/1882, 12:07:55 a.m. GMT, London, England.
Conception (from rectified birth):4/15/1881, 7:54:15 am GMT, London, England.

Vincent Van Gogh(AA)
Birth: 3/30/1853, 11:00 a.m. LMT, Zundert, Netherlands. From Astrodatabank.com by Lois Rodden and Mark McDonough. Birth certificate, Steinbrecher. Same in Gauquelin Vol.4/1444.
Conception: 6/20/1852, 10:48:14 p.m. LMT, Zundert, Netherlands.

Vaslav Nijinsky (or Nijinski) (B)
Birth: 3/12/1888, 10:30 p.m. LMT, Kiev, Russia. From Astrodatabank.com by Lois Rodden and Mark McDonough. Filipa Ferreira sends clippings of the bio, “Nijinski” by Richard Buckle.
Conception: 6/3/1887, 6:18:15 p.m. LMT, Kiev, Russia.

Friedrich Nietzsche(B)
Birth: 10/15/1844, 10:00 a.m. LMT, Rocken, Germany. From Astrodatabank.com by Lois Rodden and Mark McDonough. Lockhart quotes “Modern Astrology” November, 1914, from The Young Nietzsche,” page 522 (not substantiated by LMR). Lyndoe gave 10:07 a.m. as accepted data” in “American Astrology,” July, 1967.
Conception: 1/3/1844, 8:48:05 a.m. LMT, Rocken, Germany.

L. Ron Hubbard (A)
Birth: 3/13/1911, 2:01 a.m. CST, Tilden, NE. From Astrodatabank.com by Lois Rodden and Mark McDonough. D.C. Doane quotes him in Progressions in Action, Same in Sabian Symbols, #484.
Conception: 6/2/1910, 8:14:30 p.m. CST, Tilden, NE.

John Blofeld (A)
Birth: 4/2/1013, 3:00 a.m. GMT, London, England. From Astro-Data III, by Lois Rodden. From him to L. Clark.
Conception: 6/23/1912, 3:36:38 p.m. GMT, London, England.

Mr. G.
Birth: 5/19/1940, 2:15 p.m. EST, 42N15, 84W45. From his mother’s memory, “between 2:00 and 2:30 p.m.
Conception: 8/12/1939, 12:42:41a.m. EST, 42N15, 84W45.

The pictures are tracings over photographs which were then scanned overlaying water color backgrounds. Woolf's comes from the Lee biography, page 655. Van Gogh's comes from the Elgar bio, page 116. Nijinsky's from the Krasovskaya bio, page 117, and Nietzsche's from the frontispiece for 1894 Vienna edition of Lou Salomé's Nietzsche.

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