Philip Seymour Hoffman died Sunday of an apparent drug overdose. He was 46 years old. For many, he was one of those actors who always made an impression, yet somehow melted into his character, yet always remained somehow distinctly himself… the kind of actor who, when he dies, some will say “who?” and then someone else will say “You know, the lonely shut-in from Happiness or the personal assistant from The Big Lebowski or the jilted gay cameraman from Boogie Nights or the music writer from Almost Famous or the guy who won the Oscar for playing Truman Capote or the cult leader from The Master or the bad guy from Mission Impossible III or the priest from Doubt or –”
…but to me, as much as I was drawn into his work in everything I ever saw him in, he will always be the nurse from Magnolia, my favorite film: the kind and humane epicenter of a tornado of connected souls in pain.
What do you say about a loss like that? That it’s a shame he left a partner and three children behind? Of course. That it’s tragic we’ll never see what other characters he could have breathed life into? Of course. That drugs can do terrible things? Of course. A major death can leave one grasping for cliches, or simply blinking quietly in disbelief. I myself refused to believe it at first, because the Moon was Void of Course when the news was announced, and after all, the Internet has gotten things like this wrong before.
But what can we say about Philip Seymour Hoffman astrologically? He was born July 23, 1967, time unknown, Fairport, New York. Without the time of birth, we can’t even tell for sure if his Sun was in Cancer or Leo, but that’s not really where we should be looking anyway.
It’s often thought that artists, whether actors or musicians or writers,have a degree of internal torment going for them that tends to lead them to drugs, or alcohol, or depression, or insanity in one form or another. I personally don’t know what to make of that, except that for these things, in a birth chart, we look to Neptune — which is where we also look for transcendent spirituality and escapism. Creating art itself can be an escape. They say that “an artist has to suffer.” Maybe that’s true, and maybe Philip Seymour Hoffman’s talent was driven by a whirring engine of pain, deep down. Maybe that was the spark that drove all his many diverse roles. Maybe that’s what drove him as much as it destroyed him.
When someone dies like this, someone always says “he had demons.” All I know for sure is that Transiting Saturn was conjunct that Neptune of his, and when Saturn comes calling, there are always consequences. That, and his sense of order in life — his own natal Saturn — had been shaken for the last couple of years by the transiting Uranus-Pluto square. Transiting Saturn and Neptune squared his natal Saturn when he was 22, and he attended rehab. The same square from transiting Pluto, combined with the unpredictability of Uranus, appears to have been less forgiving.
Neptune is not just drugs and delusion: it’s sensitivity too… the kind of sensitivity that reaches beyond the ordinary and mundane and can fuel Great Art. And for all the comments about how terrible drugs are and how he must have been in pain and how artists are troubled and how show business destroys people — we all feel pain and we all need our escapes and we will all, ultimately, leave this world. So even though the astrological mechanisms of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s life and death are obvious, I find I’m stuck for anything to say, except to quote that favorite movie of mine, in which Philip Seymour Hoffman was a shining light among shining lights:
“…And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that this is not just ‘something that happened.’ This cannot be ‘one of those things.’ This, please, cannot be THAT. And for what I would like to say? I can’t.
This was not just a matter of chance. Oh, these strange things happen all the time.”