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Vincent Van Gogh and Aries

In my last two articles I’ve used the work of famous artists to illustration the attributes of the signs of the zodiac. I’m going to continue that theme. We’ll start with Aries and the painter I see as the most Aries artist of all time, Vincent Van Gogh. (Click here to see a horoscope for Vincent Van Gogh.)

We often think of Aries people as unfocused bundles of energy, charging here and there with little forethought or purpose. That’s Aries without an enemy, Aries without a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to overcome. When Aries people are given a challenge worthy of their superhuman vitality and fighting spirit they become incredibly focused – focused on winning.

Vincent Van Gogh was a man who faced some serious challenges. The exact nature of those challenges is unknown, though modern writers have come up with various theories. Some say he was manic-depressive, other that he was schizophrenic. Some blame his use of absinthe, others think that he suffered from epilepsy. But it is generally agreed that the painter was afflicted with some sort of mental illness.

There are those who claim that Van Gogh’s madness was the source of his extraordinary talent. These people are dead wrong. Van Gogh did not become a great painter because of his mental illness. He became a great painter despite it.

This is where Aries enters the picture. Van Gogh was born with the Sun in Aries and Mars, the planet that rules Aries, strongly placed. He was born a fighter and his toughest battle with that erratic lump of jelly inside his own skull. Every time Van Gogh lifted a brush to apply paint to canvas he had to fight though the resistance and distractions put in place by his dysfunctional brain. He had to struggle to put that brush stroke exactly where it needed to be.

This struggle is particularly apparent in Van Gogh’s many self-portraits. He left us no happy self-portraits, and the only one that I can think of in which the artists seems at peace is the one he painted shortly after he cut of part off his ear and attempted suicide. (Click here to see a gallery of Van Gogh paintings.) Otherwise, Van Gogh’s self-portraits offer us a testament of the battle he had to fight in order to paint them. Like grizzly trophies of war, they tell speak of great struggle and ultimate victory.

Even though most Aries people don’t have to fight for their sanity the way Van Gogh did, people born under this sign do need an element of struggle in their lives. They need something to fight for or against. The call to battle brings out the best qualities in Aries folks: their courage, their self-confidence, their quick wittedness and, most of all, their ability to focus all their energy on a single goal. However, no matter how focused Aries people may be, they can’t win every battle.

Every painting Vincent Van Gogh made was a triumph, a little piece of order and beauty rescued from a disorderly mind. But no matter how many battles he won, the artist was destined to lose the war. As is typical of Aries, Van Gogh did not surrender gracefully. His withdrawal from the fight was messy, violent and final. What he left behind was the painted evidence a magnificent and courageous struggle.