Astrology Musings: the Creativity of Victor Hugo

low angle photography of notre dame
Photo by Ashley Elena on

Writer, poet, dramatist, novelist, essayist, painter, architect, critic… his creations include ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, and the novel ‘Les Miserable’. Few creative geniuses of the 19th century – or at any time – were as eclectic as Victor Hugo.

So what made him tick, astrologically speaking?

I have homed in most particularly to his 5th/11th house axis: love, luck, life (creativity) versus hopes, dreams and wishes – if you will. These themes were to dominate his creative life and his political interests.

Compulsively creative

Here we have the Sun, Pluto and Venus in a loose conjunction in Pisces in the 5th, opposed by Saturn in Virgo. Mercury is also in Pisces in the 5th house in aspect to the expansive Sagittarius Moon and inspirational Neptune.

The 5th house is largely to do with creativity, the children of the mind as well as the body. Pisces is hugely imaginative, sensitive, intensified by Pluto and beautified by Venus in the sign of its greatest flowering – its exaltation. He had a compulsive need to create, an energy which also extended into his emotional life.

Add that inspiring Neptune in his first house in good aspect to communicative Mercury in the 5th house, and we can see just why Hugo was so creatively multi-faceted; he seemed to be able to draw on a vast well of inspiration from all the ages as well as his own.

Social justice ‘warrior’

However, as I said earlier, the triple conjunction of Sun, Pluto and Venus is opposed by a very strict, disciplined Saturn in Virgo in the 11th house of societal issues, and is in a loose conjunction with Jupiter in the last degree of Leo.

This great conjunction occurs every 20 years and is often tied to the ‘birth and death of kings’. It certainly relates to political cycles and, so tensely personalised in his birth chart, is an indication that he was always in tune with, or perhaps we should say troubled by, the great political issues of the day, which indeed he was.

His Saturn is also ruler of his 3rd and 4th houses of communication and home and family. So this may also relate to the fact that his parents never seemed to get on, a lingering dichotomy in his life which must have had deep psychological effects.

Controversial yet popular

All this, plus his ruling planet Mars in ‘off beat’ Aquarius in good aspect to revolutionary Uranus in Libra, may also be indicative of the themes he used in many of his writings; he was an outspoken and harsh critic of the political and social injustices during his life and was not afraid to court with controversy. He went into exile in Belgium and then the Channel Islands in the 1850s.

Despite such controversy, he was a hugely popular writer amongst the people, even in his own lifetime and there was a massive outpouring of grief when he died in 1885.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

source: Astro-Databank

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Astrology Bites: Paul Cezanne’s 5th House

abstract art artist artistic
Photo by Pixabay on

The 5th house in astrology is the mundane equivalent of the sign of Leo.

It’s all about creativity, games, sports, children, and art.

The highly regarded French post impressionist painter, Paul Cezanne, had an interesting 5th house.

He has a Moon Uranus conjunction in Pisces, semi sextile (30 degree aspect) Neptune.

First Post Impressionist

Cezanne today is regarded by many as the first post impressionist. He struggled to find a new style and is thought to have inspired Picasso’s cubism.

I have had a life long love of Cezanne, his endless series of paintings featuring the bathers in geometric patterns, the equally endless series on the subject of Mont Sainte-Victoire in his home patch of Provence.

Breaking the Rules

Cezanne, though he did find it a struggle, developed a totally unique, inspired style of painting, breaking the rules.

To me, all this is very indicative of his dreamy, inspired and sensitive Piscean Moon conjunct rule breaking Uranus in the 5th house of creativity. I think he was compelled subconsciously (Pisces) to do it.

The presence of the Moon’s north node in this house too, suggests that he did follow the right course in his life, that of creativity, as opposed to heeding his father’s wishes to follow him in to the tedious world of finance and its social milieu.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Mary Cassatt, the ‘New Woman’ of Impressionist Art

Mary Cassatt seated in a chair with an umbrella. Verso reads “The only photograph for which she ever posed. Courtesy of Durand-Ruel.” By Durand-Ruel –¬† The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.

Although born near Pittsburgh, USA in 1844, Mary Cassatt spent most of her life in France.

For someone who came to epitomise the ‘new woman’ of the time, who never married, and developed a career of their own, it is perhaps no surprise that we find Aquarius rising in her chart.

Aquarius is independent, freedom loving and likes to break new ground, yet can remain quite conservative at heart. This is shown in many aspects of her life. One of her primary subjects was women and their relationship to children, a traditional, genre.

The new feminine

Interestingly as well, we find Neptune in Aquarius in the first house. Neptune I equate with femininity and in Aquarius this is coloured by looking at it in new, independent spirit.

She clearly identified with this. Neptune’s quite tight trine aspect with Mars in Gemini in 5th house, adds much creative flair to her artistic expression. It was fellow impressionist, Degas, who introduced her to pastel and engraving, both genres she went onto master, testifying to her latent abilities.

Mother and Child Before a Pool By Mary Cassatt РOnline Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 46.106_transpc002.jpg, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.

Professional opposition

We also find Saturn quite close to her ascendant in opposition to the Moon in Leo in the 7th house. Saturn here indicates caution and her strong moral fibre, but the opposition to the Moon reveals troubles and frustrations in her life, particularly within herself, in relationships and professional life. The Moon in Leo in itself is naturally creative and artistic.

Both the Moon and Saturn are in good aspect to Uranus in Aries in the 2nd house, further supporting her kind of organic, sensible way of breaking new ground by truly living the part of the ‘new woman’.

Creative releases

Also, Saturn’s trine to Mercury in the 5th house, shows an easy creative release for her through something which is manually dexterous, like painting. Mercury also in good aspect the Moon in Leo supports this release function through some kind of creativity.

Finally, I come to Venus, essentially unaspected in Cancer in the 6th house of work. I found this a little surprising at first, though a prominent Venus isn’t a necessarily a prerequisite for artistic ability.

Enjoying work

Venus in Cancer is tender, likes the home and family and is another symbolic representation of what she painted a lot of, women and children. In the 6th house, this is a classic indication of working artistically, or simply loving work.

Also, an unaspected planet can often ‘shout’ to be heard, so to speak. It may well have spoken to her creatively, but is this Venus also symbolic of the fact that she never married, that she was tied to her work?

So in all, Mary Cassatt may have been something of an enigma. She lived the life of a ‘new woman’, widened the boundaries of art through her involvement in the impressionist movement, yet inwardly, she retained strong moral values and a liking for tradition.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019