Owen Wilson’s drug overdose or attempted suicide shocked everyone because it contradicted the image we have of Owen. Because he’s a comic, an all American guy with surfer dude good looks, wit and charm. In the astrological world, we’d call his personification or “mask,” the Ascendant – and possibly the Midheaven as we see Owen’s professional face, too. The face we wear to the world, our cosmic clothes or heavenly garments say tons about how we get where we’re going, but little about the character beneath. As George Michael sang, “the clothes do not make the man.”
Unless a celebrity gives us access to the person behind the mask, we can easily mistake the mask for the individual. Hence the collective thought “wow, we never really knew him at all.” As Owen Wilson’s suicide attempt proves – we actually know very little about most of our public figures. That’s the Ascendant doing its job – preoccupying us with image and style it allows us to accept who we see at face value. People are complex. Without a unified image we don’t know who to relate to. Here’s what meeting someone without a relationship to their Ascendant is like: “I love dancing, but I have this body image hang-up. I was bulimic when I was a teenager, but now I work in the IT field…” Yikes! Random bits and pieces of the whole shan’t spit up everywhere. We need a funnel: the Ascendant.
Owen’s Ascendant works beautifully in that regard. Even though we don’t know his birth time, which would allow us to pinpoint the sign, we can guess. With his easygoing style, goofy sense of humor and reputation as a playboy I’d first venture Sagittarius. However his suicide attempt is tied to the Pisces eclipse and technically a suicide eclipses a life, removing the subject from focus or bringing him into focus (in this case, both happened). Owen’s facial expressions (the mask) are soft, malleable and quite sensitive for a “dude.” So if any character could pull off the gamut of romantic-comic-playboy-adventurer, it would be Pisces, the sign that evades definition.
Owen is a Scorpio Sun, which explains why the ladies love his magnetism, charisma and mystery. Notice how he inhabits the spotlight but never quite steps into. Is he a little dangerous too? Ooh, bad, bad boy! His Sun is in a rolling Scorpio stellium: Moon, Mercury, Pallas, Neptune and Sun. We could break it all down into pieces, but the gist is his feelings are intense, his mind probing, his vision deep and his very identity is intent on experiencing the heights and depths of life. For a Scorpio, a life lived without intense life-altering interactions with their own mortality – a fate worse than death. Why? Being brought to the edge of life, staring down the barrel raises consciousness. Scorpio’s bargain with life is a deal with the devil: if I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go all the way. This sign goes all the way. A less precarious approach toward living with this precious knowledge suggests we face death every day. We each witness our slow decay by the minute, in the ways we must let old truths, attachments and identities die. Over the course of a lifetime we shed many skins, and those lost layers bring us closer to the truth of who we really are. The point is, until the Maker says time up, death needn’t be literal.
Then there’s Neptune on Owen’s Sun, the planet who raises self-consciousness by continually dissolving it. Used unconsciously Neptune can be like a slow leak in the balloon, leaking life-force out of the most passionate person. Drugs, alcohol, addiction are on the lower end of the life-supporting spectrum. Remember folks, it’s not the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll you’re after – it’s the feeling. Paying careful attention to this need for the ecstatic phantasmagoric state called Neptune in Scorpio means feeding his self a more nourishing version of that sensuous, decadent and thrilling buffet. Then the deal with the devil doesn’t head south. For Scorpio, the challenge is feeling the darkness and choosing to live in the light. Thrive or die, really.
Where can Scorpion thrive and still walk among the land of the living? Intimate relationship. Nothing strips us so bare. Ask anyone in a marriage. And nothing has the capacity to make us feel more alive. Want your heart ripped out and sewn back up again? Hmm, try a relationship. For a Scorpio, this heart wrenching piece of relationship feels real good. Yet we know that Owen has all the symptoms of chronic bachelordom – dangerous for a Scorpio. He needs someone to contain and hold his intense, edgy energy. A partner who is willing to “go there” wherever there may be. “I wanna hold your hand…”
Yet, humans are a complex bundle of counterintuitive drives. Owen has a hard time holding hands for too long. His Venus in Capricorn, his desire to partner is in the sign of self-sufficiency. He doesn’t need anyone. More importantly, he needs to know he doesn’t need anyone. That’s a tough nut for dear Venus, the planet whose purpose is to bring people together. Her kisses seem icy, her aloofness, difficult. As far as relationship goes, he needs far more solitude than your average Scorpio, which tips OwenÃ‚ toward the brooding, lone wolf side of the equation. ‘Tis true, Owen needs to feel he’s the master of his own ship, and only with his own integrity intact can he enter loving relatedness. Venus also receives a square from Uranus and Mars in Libra, the signature of sudden relationship. Entering relationship is fun and exciting, but soon brings strife and fighting. Owen distances. Love Goddess walks away in frustration.
So why now, what lit the barrel of absolute dissolution? It’s easy to play sorcerer and ask “what planetary transits impelled Owen to self-destruct?” We notice Saturn in Leo has been squaring his Scorpio stellium, making life feel like a 10k without water breaks and rest stops. And Pluto opposes Chiron, the wounded one, stirring up every Achilles heel, self-wounding tendency. Then there’s the Pisces eclipse which obviously triggered self-questioning on an identity axis.
The point is: our individual responses to challenge are as unique as we are. But they’re only markers for the journey to wholeness. Sometimes we don’t know where a friend or public figure is on his/her journey, until planetary/ life events stir up the chart. This is where predictive astrology goes only so far and leaves the rest up to individual choice. We have the capacity to inquire within, to endeavor on the journey toward self-awareness. The planets don’t care, they just keep moving – in a sense they’re objective bystanders cheering us on to the next level. If only we would see them that way. It all comes down to knowing thyself, self-consciousness. When a challenging planet angles with our chart, we’ve reached magnificent signposts where the true stage of the journey reveals: “I am here.” We’ve been made aware. Disoriented or oriented, “here” is not a bad place to be. And for Owen, now is as good a time as any to remember who he really is.