We’ll let the video be the introduction to this piece:
The world lost one of its great guitar innovators in rock to cancer with the passing of Eddie Van Halen on 6 Oct 2020. He had been battling throat cancer for the five years prior, and was hospitalized for it in 2019. The rock-and-roll world mourns his passing. He joins an increasingly long list of great guitarists who passed on way too young – Jimi Hendrix, Danny Gatton, Prince, Roy Buchanan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Django Reinhardt, among others. As it turns out, several of those just mentioned had a significant astrological factor in common, too, which we will get to. But Eddie’s passing brings in yet another study in medical astrology and death, as well as what it takes to make a great guitarist and innovator – apart from the crowd. I may have just given the common factor away.
Eddie Van Halen was born 26 Jan 1955 at 01:05 CET in Amsterdam. His chart is below (bigger):
A brief description of Eddie’s chart reveals several notable factors in relation to his music and his health. (We’ll use his first name here to distinguish the man from the band.) Firstly, we note the Neptune placement in his 12th house within a minute of arc the Ascendant. That forms a midpoint with his Mars/Saturn (death) axis. That combination points to a great sensitivity and openness to all sorts of impressions on the one hand, and being too open to suggestion and deceit on the other hand. The latter will be significant later. The combination also shows a general weakness in his constitution and obstacles to his progress when activated. It is also one of the indicators for problems with substance abuse when positioned as it is. That same combination is magnified by a Jupiter/Uranus conjunction squaring the Horizon from the 9th house. But the latter also points to his expansive and innovative influence.
Aside from that, any weakness in his chart is offset by two aspects, the main one being the Sun/Mars sextile, which gave him abundant energy, overriding the Neptune=Mars/Saturn. The other aspect is the Jupiter/Saturn trine, one of the best wealth aspects one can have in a chart. He certainly fulfilled the potential of that aspect. The Sun/Mars sextile also gives excellent manual dexterity and the presence of mind he needed to be a stage performer. He also never lacked for confidence, at least outwardly.
Then, we note the t-square with Saturn at the apex, Mercury and Pluto forming the base opposition. That combination gives artistic talent, but at the same time made Eddie somewhat of an outsider. His technique on guitar was not widely used at the time he came into notice, and in fact he is credited with pioneering it in rock-and-roll. It is also a combination that gives ability for deep investigation and hard mental work – the so-called 90% of work added to the 10% of talent that leads to 100% success. So far, the chart is remarkable for an artist, or anyone who wants to be successful along creative lines.
The Sun is conjunct the IC in the 3rd house, marking Eddie as a private person in his personal life and somewhat hermit-like. At the same time, the Sun rules his MC, the upshot being although he could be retiring offstage, he had something to communicate through his work, which came out with considerable energy when he was on stage.
His aesthetic sense was highly developed and music was a requirement in his life, shown by the Moon/Neptune trine. That also means the Moon was trine his Ascendant, adding a lucky note to the other factors just mentioned, as well as enhancing his public appeal. And with the Sun and Moon both in Aquarius, he had a universal appeal. He was well respected by guitarists of all styles, as shown by the accolades that came out across the world after his death. With Libra rising, he also had mass appeal, added to by the Sun/Moon pairing in Aquarius. This basic reading brings us to some interesting aspects, as in quintiles.
The quintile is often found in the charts of people who exhibit genius along some line, and in artists. As a single aspect it may not add much. But when one finds regular geometric patterns of 5th harmonic aspects (quintile-based), then the person is bound to express a particular talent in a pronounced and unique way. That usually needs to be triggered by some sort of crisis to be brought out. Quintiles are implicated in crises – think: ‘crisis of creativity’. In Eddie Van Halen’s case, he had two such regular quintile patterns – a yod (Jup/Ura=Ven/Moon, with the Moon and Venus being quintile at the base) and a triangle (Mars=Ven/Ura, with Mars at the apex of the triangle). The chart showing those is below (bigger):
Both the triangle and the yod just described point to relationship troubles, especially the triangle. His marital troubles with Valerie Bertinelli were splashed across the tabloids at the time. Quintiles also often show in cases of obsession. One can be obsessed with just about anything, but for Eddie it was about his creative and procreative output. The triangle shows sudden bursts of creative output. The song for which Van Halen (the band and the guitarist) was first noted was titled “Eruption” – apt – as it showcased the technique for which he was known, and by guitar standards of the day, was explosive. Quintiles usually show as unique abilities, what we might call genius, when the obsessive element of the aspect is turned toward constructive ends. The combination of planets the triangle presents is one of quick response to all stimuli of the senses, excitability in the love nature, and bursts of creative output rather than sustained output. It is the sort of thing one would want to have, say, when the need for improvisation arises.
The aforementioned yod is a different beast. And it can be rather troublesome, indicated in an inclination to act suddenly and impulsively under emotional impulses without thinking. It is also a combination found in artistry, and when well directed it complements the artistic, improvisational nature of the quintile triangle. These ‘hidden’ (uncommonly-used) aspects mark Eddie as an artist rather than a business or executive type – the type of person who leads an artist’s life of sequestration while the works of art are being created. Quintiles are often found in the charts of writers, for instance, which is a solitary type of occupation for a full-time writer. That would include songwriters. Now we come to the health problems.
Neptune on the Ascendant shows as a reticence to put oneself in the public eye. Coupled with Eddie’s 3rd house Sun, this is a real problem for a performer. Eddie admitted to having a profound case of nerves – performance anxiety, we might say – when he first started playing. He turned to ‘dutch courage’ on the recommendation of his father, who was an alcoholic, and also a musician. Eddie was 12 at that point. Uranus had come within orb of his MC by solar arc, which Jupiter activated by transit, so he was thrust into public life. Transiting Neptune squared his Mercury that year and was sesquisquare his Mars, and transiting Pluto squared his Venus. It is a setup for wrong thinking. He asked his father how he got over his own stage fright and his father told him, “Booze and cigarettes”. That was that. It was a poor piece of advice, but shown in the transits, and it dogged Eddie for years, eventually ruining his marriage.
It got to the point where Eddie said he had to have the booze to function. Vodka was the drink of choice, recommended by one of his teachers in school, and then there was cocaine when he was on the road – the booze to release the inhibitions and the coke to keep him awake. It was also a combination of drugs that led to his having injuries on stage due to acrobatics, which he probably would not have done if sober. He had a hip replacement as a result in 1999, which was indicated perhaps up to a year before when he had the directed ascendant to his natal Mars/Pluto midpoint, the latter indicated in surgeries where body parts are replaced. That axis has been called the ‘surgery axis’.
We already see a pattern here, with drugs being used as self-medication in order to function in a professional capacity, but which also leads to other unintended consequences, as in physical injuries. That brings us to his cancer, which would also be interrelated with the substance abuse due to Neptune and his Ascendant being almost exactly conjunct. The latter would have weakened his system over time, with Neptune often being shown in cases of illness, and often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed at first or slow of onset. We also note his Mars is at the Sat/Plu midpoint in the natal chart, which can be a brutal combination when activated, leading to injuries and self-destructive behaviour, for which he was known.
Eddie was diagnosed with cancer of the throat, which is what took him, in 2014. Cancer is implicated in the Saturn/Midheaven midpoint. He had that midpoint at almost the Aries points natally, or at 0° cardinals. In 2014 his directed Ascendant was within orb of that midpoint and the directed IC was on his natal Mars, also conjunct the Saturn/Pluto midpoint, showing a life-threatening condition.
In 2019 he was hospitalized for the cancer, which had not responded well to treatment. At that time the directed Jupiter/Uranus conjunction was conjunct the ‘cancer axis’ (Sat/MC midpoint), aggravating the condition and showing the sudden change and growth in the course of the illness. It was not looking good at that point. Death was soon to follow. The death chart is below (bigger):
At the time of Eddie Van Halen’s death, we have a classic case of what to look for in impending death – activations of the 1st, 4th and 8th houses. Both the 1st and 8th houses in his chart are ruled by Venus. At the time of his death, transiting Neptune was making its retrograde approach to a square of his natal Venus, well within a degree of orb. Transiting Saturn, direct, was approaching the square to his Horizon axis and thus his 1st house, within orb and opposing his Uranus, which rules his 4th house. Transiting Uranus was a degree and a half away in its retrograde transit squaring his Meridian axis, activating his 4th house (IC, conditions at the end of life) along with Saturn.
And lastly, directed Mars was sesquisquare Eddie’s Ascendant at his death, activating the 1st house in addition to Saturn. The sesquisquare and semisquare in terms of solar arcs are as good as a square or conjunction, especially given all the other factors just listed. We note, too, that Eddie’s natal death axis was on his Horizon. In a way, we might say he was a person always looking death in the face. And with Neptune at that midpoint as well, his vitality was undermined in his final days and through years of substance abuse. 6 Oct 2020 was Eddie Van Halen’s goodbye. His swan song was a hometown gig on 4 Oct 2015, at the Hollywood Bowl. What a way to end a career!
At the start of this piece mention was made of a factor in the chart that distinguishes innovators and which was seen in the charts of several guitarists who went too soon. We are speaking here of Uranus in standard aspect to either the Sun or the angles. The octal-based aspects are particularly notable. When that is found in a chart it indicates a person who does not live by anyone else’s rules, or who has circumstances constantly forced upon them which cause constant and often unwanted change in their lives. Positively used, it points to innovators and people who unconsciously know the next steps ahead in their work. It is a fearless aspect in such a case.
There are other factors in a chart that go toward greatness and innovation on an instrument, which we will cover in Part Two of this post, where we will have a brief look at some other notable guitarists and what the indicators are in their charts as well. That said, Eddie Van Halen is already missed by his fans, and gone too soon by our estimation – not by the chart, of course, which told of his passing, but by our sentiments.
I played guitar myself in my other life in a cover band before I had to get a ‘real job’ and then got into astrology. Life on the road is not for everyone. When I first heard Eddie Van Halen on the juke box (Yeah, we had real ones with vinyl records in my day.), we were taking a break from a gig in Mooresville, NC, at a place called The Woodshed. Everyone in the band had to stop and take notice when “Eruption” came blaring out of that box. We had never heard anything like it. It was Eddie’s style, after all – explode on the scene and take-no-prisoners. Envy and curiosity ensued, but such is the way the art advances. Some malcontent/genius comes along and upsets the apple cart. Then the rest of us have to catch up or be left behind. We all wondered how in the hell Eddie was playing the way he was at the time. Now we know, and copycats abound as a result. In closing, if you want to see a full range of what Eddie Van Halen could do with a guitar (he also played keyboards), here’s 13+ minutes’-worth:
As we say in my neck of the woods, “Ya’ done good, Eddie”. Don’t take any prisoners in the other worlds, either. See you around, eventually. (Continue to Part II)
Featured pic from Crimson Times