Philip Seymour Hoffman: On the Cusp

Spiritual Company Newsletter

By Steffan Vanel • Astrologer • Tarot  Reader

February 13, 2014

I remember a day in the summer of 1996. I had entered into the most incredible, most delicious warm melting surrender into a blissful state of complete peace, complete freedom, freedom from any cares, worries or anxieties. I was totally fine with everything.

Earlier that day, as a passenger in my own vehicle, I ended up going off the road and rolling three times, fracturing three vertebrae and ‘totaling’ my truck, upon which I had only minimum insurance at the time, not even personal injury protection for the medical bills.

I would love to say that the peaceful state described above was as a result of a deep meditation practice. However, it was as a result of receiving a shot of Demerol, one of the strongest legal painkillers available. I saw first hand how easy it would be to become a junkie.

On this past Monday I was at the check-out stand at the drugstore and saw the cover of People Magazine with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s photo and the title: His Tragic Final Days: A Life Destroyed by Heroin, shocking me with my first learning of the sad news. I had just come out of my 10 days of silence and meditation the day before, so I came to the news in a bit of a time warp.

Of course I had to look at his Astrological chart, and of course there are things extremely interesting to note there relevant to his genius as an actor, as well as his predilection for the allure of drugs.

We do not have a birth time for him, however, and both the Sun and the Moon changed signs some time that day. This is something not uncommon for the Moon, which changes signs every two and a half days. When it is the Sun, which only changes signs every 30 days or so, we say they were born on the ‘cusp,’ the border between two signs.

When I attempted to use my technique with my Tarot Cards to ascertain a birth time for him I could tell the cards were being deliberately inconclusive. These factors and even other components in the chart amount to an enigma of a man, with components we will never see or understand. Components I believe Philip Seymour Hoffman himself never fully knew or understood. But these paradoxes themselves created a recognized genius.

If he was born before 10 am he was a Cancer. If he was born after, he was a Leo. Hilarion gives an explanation for those who are born on the cusp like this. He says that it indicates that the individual has been incarnating within a particular sign in previous lives. It has been seen, however, that it would be useful to move out of the lessons of that sign. So your guides arrange for you to incarnate in the sign next to it. To indicate that this is only a recent change, however, they arrange for you to incarnate on the cusp.

So, if he was born before 10 am it would indicate Hoffman was previously incarnating as a Leo, and to move him out of the proud, at times overly proud and self-involvedness of Leo, they moved him into Cancer, to bring in a more emotionally caring and nurturing side, while retaining a lot of that Leo pride, creativity and leadership capability.

On the other hand, if he was born after 10 am on the day of his birth it would indicate that he had been incarnating as a Cancer and they moved him out of the clingy, overly emotionally dependent possessiveness of Cancer into Leo to give him more of that creative Leo energy, but he would still have a lot of that caring/nurturing Cancer energy. Either way he would be a blend of both signs, but without a birthtime we don’t know the history and the movement of his cusp experience.

Of course with drug, alcohol, and addiction problems we Astrologers will immediately want to look at Neptune and the sign it rules: Pisces.

In a 60 minutes interview in 2006 after winning the Oscar for Capote, Hoffman admitted that he had gone into rehab for alcohol and drugs when he was 22 because he ‘got panicked for my life’ realizing that he had some things he really wanted to accomplish in his life and if he continued like this he wasn’t going to be around to do it.

The fact that he was already in such a state at 22 indicates that this propensity for drugs and alcohol started early in his life. Well, for childhood influences we always want to look at the Moon in the chart. And here we see another one of those enigmatic ironies or paradoxes.

If he was born before 9 pm he had the Moon in Aquarius, but square to Neptune. If he was born after 9 pm the Moon moves away from the square to Neptune, but into the sign of Pisces, ruled by Neptune. So there is either a Neptunian tension, or a Piscean quality to his childhood. Either way a profound emotional, imaginative sensitivity, but likely some pronounced experience of illusion, confusion, delusion, victimhood/martyrdom, and possible problems with drugs and/or alcohol. I often give a shorthand phrase for a Pisces Moon as being like ‘growing up in a fog.’

Obviously there is a greater likelihood of the Moon being in Aquarius, square to Neptune, and this does fit my own personal sense of him after the research I have done for this article.

An afflicted Aquarian Moon like this would likely create a cool emotionally-detached childhood, but one at odds with a Neptunian vulnerability and pain being played out in different ways by different characters in the childhood drama, at different times.

All I could get from Wikipedia was that his parents divorced when he was nine and his mother is a family court judge and lawyer, and his father was a Xerox executive.

My inclination towards the Aquarian Moon Square to Neptune is because of how he could quite lightly, rationally, intelligently speak on that 60 minutes interview about such an emotionally vulnerable and painful period of his life. And yet, even with that rational, cool assessment of himself he was still not successful at avoiding plunging again into that Neptunian Sea of heroin escape from the pain.

This dichotomy and conflict must have been really bearing down upon him recently as Saturn was, somewhere in this time period, squaring his Moon and, we do know, Saturn was exactly conjunct to his Neptune on January 14th. And Saturn has a way of really bring things ‘up in your face.’

Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in 1967 and this same Neptune was also sextile, harmonious with, the Pluto/Uranus conjunction, the Astrological signature of what we now call ‘The Sixties.’
This gave Hoffman the ability to put that Neptunian imaginative pain and sensitivity in service to, or in comfortable expression of, Uranian surprise freedom and Plutonian intense depth of revelation and transformation of one’s being. These planetary energies and relationships are relatable to these quotes about his acting:

From actress Meryl Streep:

“I sat up straight in my seat and said, “Who is that?” I thought to myself: My God, this actor is fearless. He’s done what we all strive for – he’s given this awful character the respect he deserves, and he’s made him fascinating.”[27]

From David Fear of Rolling Stone:

“No modern actor was better at making you feel sympathy for fucking idiots, failures, degenerates, sad sacks and hangdogs dealt a bum hand by life, even as — no, especially when — he played them with all of their worst qualities front and center. But Philip Seymour Hoffman had a range that seemed all-encompassing, and he could breathe life into any role he took on: a famous author, a globetrotting party boy aristocrat, a German counterintelligence agent, a charismatic cult leader, a genius who planned games of death in dystopic futures. He added heft to low-budget art films, and nuance and unpredictability to blockbuster franchises. He was a transformative performer who worked from the inside out, blessed with an emotional transparency that could be overwhelming, invigorating, compelling, devastating.”

Hoffman also had Saturn trining, harmonious with, Jupiter in Leo, hence his incredible discipline and dedication to his Leonine creative expression and Jupiter expansiveness in doing so. The Jupiter in Leo would also be relatable to those who have noted his profound dedication to his children.

Hilarion shares this one component of Jupiter in Leo:

Regardless of the aspects to Jupiter, the Leo position always indicates that at least one of the children of the individual will do quite well in the world’s eyes, will be a “success”. Usually the individual will have a very close emotional tie with that child as well.

The Saturn in Aries in his chart was square to his Mercury in Cancer and this Square is what was undergoing perhaps the most intense pressures of his life at this time, pressures from the currently on-going Pluto/Uranus Square we are all having to deal with in some way, individually and collectively.

Uranus in Aries was conjuncting the Saturn and squaring the Mercury. Pluto in Capricorn was simultaneously squaring Saturn and opposing Mercury.

We don’t know the houses and thus the arenas or ‘stages’ where these characters were acting out their parts without the birthtime. We can know this about Mercury in Cancer and Saturn square Mercury from Hilarion’s Astrology Plus:

Cancer. Mercury here if afflicted will make it very difficult for the rational mental processes to operate independently of and unaffected by the emotional life. Negative feelings and emotions will have a way of muddying up the reasoning ability. The main lesson is to separate thought from emotional influences. If well aspected in Cancer, Mercury gives a love of home and especially, warmth for children within the family circle.

He had his Mercury well-aspected to his Venus but again square to his Saturn:

When Saturn aspects Mercury, there is a restriction and blockage in the free flow of mental energies into the head chakras from the higher self. The net result is to make it more difficult than usual for mental operations and manipulations to be carried out. Where Mercury is dignified by sign, however, the clamp of Saturn does not interfere seriously with the mental operations and the effect tends to be more in the outer “arranged” part of the experience. Saturn-Mercury aspects will invariably cause restraints on the Mercury-related activities: travel, schooling, communication. These will be for the purpose of prompting a fuller appreciation of these areas than was the case in a previous life, when opportunities were available but were disregarded or ignored.

Now I don’t know about Hoffman’s academic capabilities. He definitely seemed quite capable to express himself quite coherently. And yet I think this Mercury in Cancer difficulty between emotional and rational mental capabilities is parallel to, or repeats the theme of, the suspected Moon in Aquarius square Neptune tension in his chart. This would manifest a similar dichotomy and difficulty as I explained earlier, between cool rational detachment and deep Neptunian vulnerability.

I think this was a component in what enabled him to take emotionally wounded characters with communication quirks and problems and bring them to life for us.

As one friend of his said: ” (he) played those characters so well because he knew about guilt and shame and suffering”.

I think this is also why he was not comfortable having his personal self being widely known to the public, stating that his job as an actor is to make that character believable and if you know too much about the personal reality of the actor that is going to interfere with your belief. Not the normal stance of a Leo, or even a Cancer on the Leo cusp.

Pluto and Uranus must have been making some incredibly intense demands upon his ability to think straight in relation to his own Cancerian emotions and Saturnian responsibilities.

And then there was Saturn quite likely, simultaneously hitting his Neptune/Moon Square, creating a similar tension but one that would bring in the Neptune drug/alcohol part of the equation.

Prior to his death Hoffman was performing the role of Willy Loman of ‘Death of a Salesman’ on Broadway. There are these quotes indicating that the intense emotional power and tragedy of that role is what really put him ‘over the edge.’

Playing Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman Changed Hoffman

“That play tortured him,” says Katz, and close friends say Hoffman wasn’t the same after he threw himself into playing the tragic character — breaking into tears nightly — on Broadway in 2012. “He was miserable throughout that entire run. No matter what he was doing, he knew that a 8:00 that night he’d do that to himself again,” Katz says. “If you keep doing that on a continual basis, it rewires your brain, and he was doing that to himself every night.”

Ethan Hawke Never Saw Hoffman Take a Drink Until Salesman

Not long after that production, Hoffman told a friend he had been sober for so long — 23 years — that he felt he could risk drinking again “in moderation.” But by the next spring he’d checked himself into rehab.

This quote is also extremely revealing of the Astrological dynamics at play at this time:
Friends Say Hoffman’s Final Bender Wasn’t a Suicidal Streak, But a Relapse Turned Deadly

“The addiction was always trying to find a way back in, and it started with the idea that the kid was an addict, and now he’s an adult with incredible willpower,” says Katz. (Hoffman checked himself into rehab at 22 after spending college at NYU partying hard). “He was a guy in his midforties who said to himself, ‘I never had a drink in my adult life.’ So maybe the adult thought he could handle it.”

I would say that it was the Saturn control and maturity and Aquarian cool rational sense of the ‘adult’ in him that was not fully acknowledging the Cancerian/Neptunian vulnerability of himself in evidence in this quote.

There is Internet chatter about the possibility of a diary found revealing that Hoffman was experiencing a conflict between his love for his long time partner and mother of his children, and another woman who had recently entered into his life.

Whether that is true or not, we do know that his partner Mimi O’Donnell has been quoted as saying that Hoffman had been asked to move out of their shared home as a kind of ‘tough love’ to encourage him to deal with and get a grip on his addiction problem.

I would imagine that his inability to keep a Saturnian discipline and control of his emotional actions and probably some coming down heavy on himself with Saturnian judgment and recrimination towards himself for that inability, especially when it separated him from those three children, was something he was having great difficulty coping with.

Hard to judge, but if I were to do so, I would say he really needed some deep self-forgiveness and love for himself, the kind that generally can only really come from a spiritual source, to be able to come out of the other side of such agony. Something which is now between him and his Maker. I wish him great love and healing, and for those that he cared for and who cared for him.

Steffan Vanel

John of God – w/aside Regarding Nelson Mandela

Spiritual Company Newsletter

By Steffan Vanel • Astrologer • Tarot  Reader

January 28, 2014

Since I mentioned at the end of November that I would be visiting John of God in Brazil I have had many requests to share my experiences there. I’m sitting now in a cafe in Santiago, Chile where I’ve decided to take the time to share some of my thoughts and experiences with you. (Commentary about Chile should arrive later).

Let me begin, however, with my often repeated, bottom line philosophical belief: “Everything is good, for the people it is good for, until it is no longer good for them.” Hard to argue with, no?

There are many websites, books and DVDs portraying who ‘Joa de Deus’ or ‘John of God’ is, what the historical facts are etc. For that reason I am not going to bother with a lot of that kind of material. This is just my own personal synopsis of what I saw, experienced, and have come to believe as to what is happening at the Casa de Dom Inacio in Abadania, Brazil.

As a way of brief introduction, for those of you who have no idea who or what I am talking about, John of God is an incorporating medium. That is, he is able to allow disincarnate spirits to enter into his body to speak and perform physical actions. For a number of years these spirits, or as they refer to them there, “entities”, have been performing invisible and, at times, visible surgeries upon people.

I myself first witnessed mediumship early in my life, around 1972. My first experience with ‘psychic surgery’ was in 1982, in the Philippines where I accompanied a friend who wanted to seek help from the ‘psychic surgeons’ who work there. That journey would serve, in itself, as a topic for a whole other article, but suffice it to say, I watched them perform psychic surgery and I let them perform it on me.

The first time I went to Brazil was in 2003. I had gone to attend the 2003 International Rainbow Gathering held in Brazil that year, and to explore some of the mystical activities going on in Brazil at that time.

As part of that exploration I went to see John of God. Actually a lot of participants from the Rainbow Gathering ventured that way after the Gathering. We started calling it the ‘Arco de Iris Blanco’ or ‘The White Rainbow Gathering. This was because when you are at the Casa you are asked to dress only in white clothing. We recognized the same people from the gathering but we were all wearing white.

I didn’t have an acute health problem at that time. I wanted to seek some help for an earlier injury, but generally I wanted to just ‘check it out.’ At that time there were about 40 or 50 people in the waiting room. Last month, there were over a thousand. That’s what happens when you make it on to ‘Oprah!’ In one episode of her show Wayne Dwyer shared his experience of being healed of his leukemia by John of God.

When you are at the Casa, you generally have the choice whether to experience invisible, or you can ask for, a visible surgery. They say that there is no difference between the two and, in fact, the visible surgery is for people who need to ‘see it to believe it.’

After even the invisible surgery, you are asked to rest indoors for 24 hours following the surgery. I can say I was really ‘knackered’ both times I had invisible surgery.
While waiting in the waiting room for your surgery or to go before the entity they show a video of the entities performing physical surgeries. Some of those surgeries take a strong stomach to watch.

Occasionally the entity will come out to the waiting room, onto a small stage, and perform physical surgeries on people in front of everyone. I witnessed this back in 2003 where I watched the entity scrape a woman’s eyeball with a knife. Someone later told me that he takes off cataracts that way. I also watched him take a 6-inch hemostat, hold it up to a guy’s nose and shove it into his head, wiggle it around, and pull out some white stuff. Someone told me that is how he does surgeries within the body.

It was pretty amazing, but I have seen a lot of amazing things in my life, including what saw in the Philippines, in pure daylight, watching the surgeon with short sleeves, working 2 feet away from me.

Early last year I discovered I had a cataract in my right eye. When I was around 7 years old I ran that eyeball into a lit cigarette. That and too much staring at computer screens I imagine may be at least part of the causes.

I remembered the eye surgery performed by John of God, or the entity inhabiting at the time back in 2003, and decided to ask Spirit through my Tarot cards if I should go to Brazil or not. They said yes.

When I arrived at the Casa I was expecting 300 or 400 people, not a thousand. Apparently, in addition to all of the international visitors, a TV show about Joa de Deus had recently appeared on Brazilian television and inspired an additional influx of Brazilians as well.

I was planning on this visit to actually ask for the visible surgery. In the orientation meeting the night before, however, I discovered that you couldn’t ask for a visible surgery if you were over 52, which I am.

That, and the crowded chaos that first morning, made me decide to just go for the invisible surgery when they announced that anybody who had been there before and didn’t feel the need to bring their case to the entity for a decision, could just go and have an invisible surgery. I decided to just go for it. It knackered me harder than it did the first time. I virtually slept 24 hours straight afterwards.
I also discovered if on your paper where you write your health concerns you are asking for help with your eyes then you can’t read or write for 8 days after your surgery.

If it is your first time visiting the Casa they now ask you to come with an official guide, which is a good idea to help you to wade through all the facts and details involved there.

My surgery was on a Wednesday morning. On the next Wednesday I went back for my revision.’ A kind of a ‘check-up.’

While in the line waiting to go before the entity I saw him scrape the eye of a lady in front of me. I decided to ask my translator to mention to the entity that I had a cataract.

The rule on physical surgery is that you can’t ask for physical surgery if you are over 52, but the entity may himself decide that you need one.

The entity asked me if I wanted him to take out my cataract. I said yes. Immediately they pulled out a wheel chair for me to sit in, and I was told to look up while he started to cut into my eye with a scalpel. It hurt a fair bit and it was difficult to keep my eyeball looking straight up, fighting against the powerful instinct to protect your eye, even though I had faith in the entity. Twice he had to say to me: “Don’t flinch!” And: “Look straight up!”

Finally I was able to muster the courage and determination to keep my eye looking straight up while he finished cutting the cataract, moved it to the side of my eye and lifted it out.

I was in considerable pain that night. For several hours I had to put cotton soaked in ice water on my eye. I was still in pain and couldn’t really open that eye the following day. In the days following the pain slowly lessened and returned to normal. Needless to say, I couldn’t read or write for another eight days. I had to ask friends to read urgent emails to me. and to take dictation in response.

As the pain in my eye subsided I noticed that, as far as I could tell, my eyesight had not changed. I spoke to one of the ’guides’ and he told me that, although I had a physical surgery, that that surgery had nothing to do with an actual physical cataract surgery. That with time, taking the herbs they prescribed for me, a healing of my eyesight may well take place. There is no telling, however, what exactly was cut out of me that day.

I must admit, I was thinking previously that there would be a more tangible physical result if I had a physical surgery, even though they say there is no difference.

What I experienced was definitely tangibly physical. I could literally feel him cutting into my eye and sliding something to the side and lifting it out, as well as his frustration with me as I experienced difficulty keeping my eye stable and vulnerable.

I feel now, however, that he cut something deeply out of my soul. I think the entity knew that the invisible surgery I had had, was already working on me. But when I still felt the need to tell him I had a cataract, he knew I needed to go deeper into a state of surrender and vulnerability and receptivity to my own healing.

Looking back, it felt like a kind of shamanic ritual. A ritual that is obviously not necessary for everyone who goes to see John of God.

I believe that clear evidence of mediumship is always a useful ‘mindblower’ to the materialistic mindset of contemporary society. This in itself is a tremendous service to the thousands of people who visit there every month. To have clear evidence that this physical life is temporary and to experience proof that the soul survives and continues, cuts through a lot of silly attitudes and motivations we otherwise identify with.

Indeed, being in the atmosphere of the Casa, knowing, feeling the spiritual power of the numerous entities working there, especially when you can sit in the ‘current room’ where a congregation of people are sitting in silence, with the entity and other mediums working at one end of the room, special spiritual music playing through various loudspeakers for 4 plus hours at a stretch. There you feel the motivation, the need, to lift yourself, to elevate yourself, into being the best person you can be.

In that atmosphere I became clearly aware of how I have pretty good discipline around what I say or do, but in my actual thoughts I can be rather funky or indulgent, certainly more self-based, than I would like to think of myself. In the rarified atmosphere of the Casa those less than pure energies stand out more starkly.

I realized it was time to engage more seriously in what I now repeatedly call:
‘Time to elevate,’ time to elevate the thoughts and motives behind my thoughts, and elevate the content of my thoughts. This was also an encouragement to engage more deeply with my Vipassana ‘mindfulness’ practice.

Most of the orations given in the waiting room were in Portuguese, so I could only pick up bits of what they were saying. There was a lady, however, who spoke English. I appreciated her encouragement for people, who were clearly there to receive some kind of healing, to look at what causes may have led to their illnesses and to see what changes they need to make, whether in diet and other physical habits, or mental and emotional issues.

I did hear enough stories of miraculous healings people have received from the Spirits of the Casa while I was there, many of very serious illnesses, to know that there is genuine miraculous healing going on there, even for people who receive it at a distance, like with Wayne Dwyer.

If I ever experience a serious threat to my health in the future, I will quite likely return to Brazil. I can say that the irritation and burning I was experiencing in that eye has already been greatly reduced. And although I may very well end up getting a regular cataract surgery, I am really grateful for and feel transformed by the experience that I had there.

Personally, I think anywhere where people are inspired to surrender to a power higher than their own ego, and to look deeply and honestly with themselves, it is a good thing to be happening.

I am also remembering a poignant statement I heard some time ago by the social/spiritual visionary Barbara Marx Hubbard: ‘You can be healed of a disease even if you are not cured. And you can be cured of a disease, but not healed.”

Nelson Mandela

It was during my time with John of God that Nelson Mandela passed away. I wanted to study his chart and make some comments on what may have been involved in the Astrological make-up of such an inspiring man. Because of the reading restrictions for my eyes, however, I had to let the moment pass me by.

As a quick note, I can say that he was a Cancer, so that caring, nurturing Cancerian concern for the well being of his ‘family’ was evidently there.

Curiously, however, based on the best information we have for a birth time for Nelson Mandela, he had a Sagittarius Rising (Ascendant) which brings to my mind the other Cancer with Sagittarius Rising I am always talking about: The USA.

May Nelson Mandela be a good example for us Americans. Sagittarius Rising, according to the Ascended Master Hilarion, gives a self-image of oneself as being honest, upright and morally strong, whether true or not. I would say in the case of Nelson Mandela it was true. In the case of the U.S……not always.

The potential of a caring, nurturing, Cancer Sun combined with an enthusiastic morally righteous engagement with the world is what Nelson Mandela displayed. May he serve as a reminder to the U.S. of her own ‘higher potential.’

Both entities have other complicating factors in their charts. For the U.S., I wrote a whole book about it. For Nelson Mandela, I think I will just leave it there.

Steffan Vanel