Vincent van Gogh: Solar Return Charts (1)

Dear Readers,
I posted this article in October, but according to the statistics on it, there didn’t seem to be much interest. Now I am not sure whether they are dull or whether the time at which they were published was not opportune. Please be so friendly as to give me some feedback so that I know whether solar return charts are of interest. I had planned to go through the following 6 years in detail, but will only take the time if there is an interested public!

I examined six critical years in Vincent van Gogh’s life:

  • 1869 Vincent begins his apprenticeship with Goupil
  • 1876 Vincent is fired
  • 1880 Vincent decides to become a painter
  • 1887 Vincent moves to Arles in this solar year
  • 1888 Vincent’s fateful meeting with Gaugin and his first nervous breakdown (cuts part of his left ear off)
  • 1890 Vincent’s (unintended?) suicide

The major planetary clusters in Vincent van Gogh’s chart are in mutable signs; Sagittarius (Moon, South Node and Jupiter) and Pisces (MC, Mars and Venus). And so I will be concentrating my attention first on any solar return activity in these signs, where conjunctions, oppositions and squares to the central planetary configurations of the natal chart are made. It is generally a good idea to look for patterns in a whole series of solar return charts, instead of looking at each year seperately. In each of the above years one set of the mutable signs is on an axis. In 1869, 1876, 1880 and 1887 it is the Ascendant/Descendant axis. In 1887, 1888 and 1890 it is the MC/IC axis.


In 1869, solar return Mercury (14 Pisces), L1, is square solar return Saturn (17 Sagittarius), L10. Saturn is also conjunct the radical Moon. This means that the radical Moon/Jupiter and Mars/Venus configuration is activated. In addition solar return Venus conjuncts radical Venus. Solar return Jupiter (L10 of the radix) also conjuncts natal Mercury. So we have both a focus on learning the profession of art dealer, with all its accompanying communicative difficulties. Vincent also has first encounters with the art of painting, albeit passively. There are of course other aspects that are of interest. Solar return Mars interestingly enough is conjunct solar return North Node (15 Leo) and so exactly square natal Saturn (15 Taurus)*. This means that Saturn is at the midpoint between both nodes. The opposite midpoint is occupied by solar return Moon (13 Scorpio) This is interesting as both Moon and Saturn are activated in both charts, one by conjunction, the other by opposition. Both are rulers of the Asc/Descendant axis of the natal chart. I’m not surprised that solar return Mars is in the 4th house, the choice of this apprenticeship was not Vincents idea, it was made for him by his family. They were the driving force behind the decision. Vincent was after all only 16 years old.

* You might also want to note that the antiscion of solar return Mars is at 14 Taurus and so conjunct natal Saturn!


31 thoughts on “Vincent van Gogh: Solar Return Charts (1)

  1. Good Afternoon Thomas!

    I got TOP marks in the Stroop test so do you think my neuropsychological evaluations (which measure mental vitality and flexibility thus enabling me to perform with maximum self-regulation capability) are in their degree of greatest exaltation?

    Or shouldn’t this ‘link’ that appears in the comments section:

    have been on your Weblog at all LOL? 😉


  2. I have looked for this article back in the time, found strange that sudden disappearing.
    I don´t think you should do or take your articles based on popularity. You would end up doing love sun sign astrology !
    Interest in real astrology is limited, and the much complicated the theme, lesser students will be

  3. Hello Caroline,
    Thank you! The link wiggled itself in! I don’t mind if someone asks for more riddles, but then if none of them belong to the top 15 puzzles at the site mentioned, LOL, then the link shouldn’t be there!


  4. Hello Yuzuru,

    You are right of course. It is just that if certain posts are overlooked, statistically, then one does ask whether they generate enough (at least one visitor?) to take the time to write more on the same theme.

    Thank you so very much for your feedback!

    best regards,

  5. Hi Thomas :0)

    Thank you for Van Gogh’s birth details; now we can follow your reasoning in the 1869 S.R. and subsequent years.

    And I agree with Yuzuru. Just because we don’t comment on an article doesn’t mean to say that we aren’t all reading and appreciating your work. I for one am very appreciative! 🙂

    I shall look forward to your presentation of the whole ‘series’ .


  6. Hi Thomas,

    In regards to Caroline’s Stroop test I too had one done.
    What we discovered is that my brain is so sharp that I cut myself when thinking !!!

    At any rate, my neglect is not from disinterest but from an extemely heavy workload (entertainment business). HOwever, in a day ortwo I shall look at the Van Gogh returns and see what we are searching for.

    This is a great site and I, for one, find your posts and forum very intriguing and smartly done.

    Sir Arthyr

  7. Hello Caroline, Herman, Arthyr!

    Thank you so much for your moral support! I will however try to enliven the next van Gogh solar return charts!

    Caroline and Arthyr: nice to hear you did so well with the texts, err- Stroop tents, err_ swoop tests… 🙂 oh well. I get so easily distracted. Shouldn’t take the statistics too serious now should I.

    warmest regards to you all!

  8. Hello Thomas :0)

    I have just been following you on the 1869 return. Beautifully worked out and a joy to follow! 🙂 Thank you. Should we also take note of the position of the natal ascendant in the solar return chart? I thought it fitting for that for 1853 it fell into the 3rd house of communication and learning. Especially with that double whammy of natal Moon on s.r. Saturn, and natal Saturn opposed by s.r. Moon (tying up the return 10th house with the natal first).

    Which method do you use to ascertain the ruler of the revolution? Do you use Morin’s method? (I theeeenk this is the planet with the most dignities in the 5 Hylegical places) or Abu Mashar’s suggestion of taking the Lord of the profected year. In which case Mars wins hands down, and so his being positied in the 4th house would indeed indicate young Vincent abiding by his parental wishes as you state with that mutual reception between the Sun and Mars.

    Phew! All too much strain for me at this time of the morning though! I will go and eat some oily fish before studying the next one! :0)


  9. Thank you for your interesting find on synchronicity with solar returns in the life of van Gogh. You have made the returns for the Zundert, Netherlands, where Vincent van Gogh was born. He died in Auvers sur Oise in France, but it was not important for the results of your research are both towns are close, so it does not change the results of your research on his mutable signs. However, transit Saturn on 27 July 1890 is opposed his 1980 Solar Return 4 Pisces MC for Auvers sur Oise in France.

    I believe Van Gogh’s Mars and Moon, both Lord of Geniture and Ascendant are essential to understand van Gogh. Mars is close to fixed star Scheat which is artistic but on the wing of madness. Moon and South Node are conjunct Rasalhague augment imagination and is linked also to mental illness.

    I thought you would appreciate the fact that the Grand Conjunction of 18 April 1881 has Pisces Mars square to Sagittarius Moon and North Node, repeating the same natal square in Van Gogh’s chart. He decided to become a painter in 1880 and his 1880 Revolution in Arles, France has Mars opposed natal Moon and South Node and square his natal Mars and MC, and Mars rules SR 5th of pleasure in this chart. However, on 27 July 1890, Mars and Moon entered Sagittarius together and he shot himself in the chest.

    Van Gogh was a man of destiny and resonated strongly with the Grand Conjunction, because the one before his birth on 26 January 1842 was exactly square his natal Aries Sun making him famous, but suffering a tragic end.


  10. Hi Caroline,
    A small note on the Solar Return subject. Morin based all responses by the individual from the natal chart. So if we call the Lord of the V.V.G.’s Geniture Venus, it will always hold that position during the entire lifetime and all consequent SR.’s.

    The main points Morin expressed in the SR were the Ascendent and the MC’s position, any planets by Mundo to the natal chart and the determinations based on the Ingress of the Solstice or Equinox of the area in which the native lived. From these Ingress charts were the determination of the lord of the year and their effect on the general populace of which the native was a part..

    Finallly, Morin did find the lord of the Geniture for a SR but it didn’t take precedence over the Natal Chart’s LoG. The SR LoG simply gave strong indications concerning its condition and sign rulership.

    So, If Mercury were the LoG of a SR and it ruled the Ascendent, we would want to pay particular attention to the Natal Mercury and how the SR Mercury worked in “concordance” with each other.

    Morin never considered only one planet as a situation in a chart and always reprimanded those who did (Cardan comes to mind).

    At your service,
    Sir Arthyr

  11. Hi,

    Pisces Mars is the Lord of Geniture of the natal chart of van Gogh, and Sagittarius Moon is the Lord of Ascendant and both are in square sinister aspect.

    I would like to share with you that the chart of the Grand Conjunction can be profected. Grand Conjunction of 1881 which had Pisces Mars square Sagittarius Moon and North Node is a repetition of the natal aspect in the natal chart of van Gogh.

    If you profect the Grand Conjunction to 18 April, Profected Mars is 10 Sagittarius and profected Moon is 21 Virgo, and Van Gogh 1990 Mars Revolution is also 11 Sagittarius. Revolution of 1890 has also profected Jupiter in Aquarius conjunct Revolution Jupiter in 8th Aquarius opposed to Revolution Leo Moon.

    I would suggest strongly to use Grand Conjunctions and profect them. My source for this is Pepita who translated with Anthony Louis, Book 16 of Morin.


  12. @ Arthyr:

    “Morin never considered only one planet as a situation in a chart and always reprimanded those who did (Cardan comes to mind).”

    What does it mean? It’s not clear for me. Can you explain me a little better, please?
    Cardano considers the geniture together with the solar return. Or does Morin mean something else? i found Morin very difficult and English too 😦


  13. Arthyr said: “Morin based all responses by the individual from the natal chart. So if we call the Lord of the V.V.G.’s Geniture Venus, it will always hold that position during the entire lifetime and all consequent SR.’s.”

    ‘Morning Arthyr,

    Yes, I take your point: the message of a solar return is only valid only if that same message is promised by the natal chart.

    Regarding Morin never considering one planet in isolation and reprimanding those who did: didn’t contentious Morin reprimand every other astrologer as a matter of course, regardless of what they did LOL!


  14. @ Caroline

    But I think that Cardano does the same.

    I’m not really sure because Cardano writes in an awful Latin, he wrote he learnt it in a night as in a sudden revelation, and this makes me very skeptical – as usual, the virgo sun 🙂

    So it’s very difficult for me to follow the translation I have and the Latin text (I always compare both).

    Anyway now I’m translating something pertinent, so at this point I hope to complete it soon.

  15. Good Morning Caroline!

    Good point. There is so much to be seen in a solar return. Yes, the position of the radix Ascendant and the Lord or Lady of the Year should be considered.

    I’m a bit lazy, when it comes to the Lord or Lady, though. I resort to them for those charts where there seems to be nothing going on! But Mars as LY would then further support the other Mars testimonies.

    Thank you.


  16. Hello Athena!

    The 1869 return chart was indeed taken for Zundert, as I believe Vincent was still at home at the time. The other charts, I have taken, as best as possible, for the places where Vincent was at during his birthday. He wrote many letters to his brother Theo, and so one has a good chance of establishing this.

    I was thinking of posting each of the solar returns for the years mentioned seperately. Although any insights to the earlier charts are welcomed!

    I am intrigued by your choice of Mars as Lord of the Geniture. In presenting the natal chart I suggested Venus, with Jupiter also being contender. Could you please explain your reasoning?

    Vincent van Gogh, is in the popular mind, most remembered for cutting his left ear off, and so for his ‘madness’. The cause for his nervous condition, remains a bit of a mystery. There are suggestions that he could have been in the later phase of syphilis, or that heavy drinking, particularly absinthe (which has a very high percentage of alchol), or depression. What is quite clear, astrologically, is that Mercury plays a prominent role in his chart. See the discussion in the post on his chart. If one reads his letters to his brother Theo, one doesn’t have the impression that he was mad. He was however extremely sensitive to his surroundings, particularly for the downtrodden. In one letter, he says that, “in some situations it is better to be the vanquished than the victor, that is better to be Prometheus rather than Zeus…let come what must come.”

    I usually don’t look at Grand Conjunctions in reference to natal charts, but the idea is intriguing, especially for individuals who really have made their mark in history.

    The pre-natal GC at 9 Capricorn is interesting as the antiscion of the Moon is at 9 Capricorn. This would of course bind the whole to the prenatal eclipse which is conjunct the natal Moon.

    Now on to the next comments. See you soon as you have written further on down the line!

    Best regards,

  17. Hello Athena,

    Back again. Using profections is also very helpful. In fact we see that in order to understand a natal chart, we need to see how it develops through time. That means that profections, secondary and primary directions and also such major events as pre-natal eclipses or GConjunctions as well as solar returns help. I think it is a misconception to think that a natal chart can be ‘read’ as a stand alone chart.

    It might complicate things, but maybe we should include significant developments in further discusssion of the set or solar return charts that will be considered here?

    Thank you for a most satisfactory discussion. (that also goes for everyone else who has contributed!)

    best regards,

  18. Thomas said to Athena: “I am intrigued by your choice of Mars as Lord of the Geniture. In presenting the natal chart I suggested Venus, with Jupiter also being contender. Could you please explain your reasoning?”

    Good Afternoon Thomas :0)

    I don’t know why Athena picked Mars to be the natal LoG, but there is another candidate as well as Venus and Jupiter to be ‘Lord of the Geniture’ in Van Gogh’s chart. May I suggest the Sun?

    I learnt early on over on Tom’s Solar Return list that Morin proposed the most influential planet as LoG as being the planet that is the strongest in the principle hylegical places in the nativity. That is, strongest in the places of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Midheaven and Fortuna. Whichever planet that has the most dignities in those places was, in Morin’s opinion, the LoG, and if more than one candidate, then the planet’s own intrinsic essential strength was also considered.

    However, Morin tells us that if there is more than one contender, a planet’s accidental dignity state outranks its essential dignity.

    So with Jupiter being the planet who has the most dignities in the hylegical places (22 points) being cadent, perhaps the Sun in his exaltation in the 10th house with 17 points would make a suitable alternative?

    Venus has only 8 points when evaluated this way.

    Which just goes to show there are as many candidates for LoG than there are planets or astrologers calculating them at times LOL!



  19. Hi Thomas,

    Thank you for your kind answers. I chose Mars as Lord of Geniture for the natal chart of Van Gogh for two reasons.

    First reason, is that I followed the following rule: judging which of the ruler and exalted ruler of Ascendant, MC, Sun, Moon and Part of Fortune has more dignities. I believe it is Mars because he rules Sun and Part of Fortune, whereas Venus is only the exalted ruler of MC. Venus is stronger than Mars. However, Mars is more important even if he is peregrine, and Morin did seem to follow this rule also, i.e. taking a peregrine planet as the Lord of geniture.

    Also, with my Solar Fire software, Mars is the almuten of the chart according to Ibn’Ezra. It is true however that software calculations are not the most trustworthy, and I trust my own calculations.


  20. Hello Athena,

    There are usually different arguments for choosing which planet is LOG. Sometimes it isn’t one planet alone! That is what makes it so difficult. Thank you for explaining your reasoning.

    I concur with Caroline that:

    Which just goes to show there are as many candidates for LoG than there are planets or astrologers calculating them at times LOL!


  21. Hi Thomas,

    I agree that Venus is also Lord of Geniture. However, Mars even if peregrine, but being the Lord of Sun and Part of Fortune and conjunct MC has been more important. And this can be seen, I believe, in the fact that Mars was important in the returns where there were major turning points for Van Gogh.

    1880 Revolution has SR Mars on SR 12th cusp opposed to natal Sagittarius Moon and square natal Mars, and Van Gogh left everything to start painting full time. 1890 Revolution has SR Mars conjunct natal Sagittarius Moon and square natal Mars. Transit Mars start retrograding to Scorpio, but in July, transit Mars re-entered Sagittarius with transit Moon and he suicided himself by a shot in the chest. I think this can show effectively that Morin is right to say that a peregrine planet like Mars can be the Lord of the Geniture, if it is angular and has rulership on either Ascendant, MC, Sun, Moon and Part of Fortune. It the case of Mars, it is Sun and Part of Fortune.

    I must say that looking at the importance of Mars in the life of Van Gogh gave me more confidence to grant the title of Lord of Geniture to Mars.


  22. Hello Athena,

    Yes you have a point there. I also agree that a peregrine planet, provided it has accidental dignity, can also be LOG and that this function is not only reserved for essentially dignified planets. If we pop over to the 1876 solar return we see Mars conjunct Venus. Any thoughts on this chart?


  23. Hi Thomas,

    I erected 1876 Revolution for Paris, France. Lords of the Year are SR Mars and Venus in conjunction but in Taurus in natal 11th. It repeats the same natal conjunction and both Mars and Venus are also Lords of Geniture. I think that this conjunction square natal Moon and Jupiter made him very passionate and rebellious and inclined to do as he pleases.

    This conjunction sextile SR Mercury in fall in Pisces on natal MC which rules natal 12th of self-undoing. SR Mars also rules SR 12th of self-undoing.

    If you look at the SR 12th, you will see also Jupiter which is the Lord of SR Ascendant also in 12th which is opposed to Moon in 6th which is the Lord of natal Ascendant. The environment in Paris, France is not adequate for him.

    SR Mercury rules SR 7th of associations and SR 9th of foreign travel and faith. SR Mercury in Fall on MC could indicate that he would have communication problem with his profession, and there could be some changes.

    He was fired on April 1, 1876 when transit Mercury was exact on natal MC. He then returned to England to teach gospel, as he was passionate for religion, and this was done impusively in my view, as SR Ascendant was conjunct natal Moon square natal Mars.

    As you see, focussing mostly on Lord(s) of Geniture, Lord(s) of the year, as well as Lord of Ascendant could help find the most important events promised in a Revolution.


  24. Hello Athena,

    Sorry that I neglected answering your comment! Your reading is a valuable addition to the 1876 article!
    ! Thank you. We’ll be returning shortly to Van Gogh in further articles on his solar returns. I am looking forward to your reading of them, when the time comes.


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