Anthony Bourdain 1956-2018

(12 June 2018) Sometimes the end comes without warning. Writer, television host and chef Anthony Bourdain took his own life last Friday while filming in France.  The sudden death of the star of Parts Unknown and No Reservations shocked his legions of fans who are mourning the loss of his thoughtful, empathetic approach to international food and culture.  Bourdain's unique blend of intelligence, urban cool and sardonic wit brought to life many far-flung places for appreciative viewers in the US and around the world.  I know because I was one of them.

Bourdain had previously talked about his struggles with depression over the years although there were no indications that he was suicidal.   But from his horoscope, we can see clear evidence for depression and emotional problems.  Typically, the mind of an individual is reflected in the condition of the Moon and Mercury.  The Moon rules the emotions, while Mercury rules the more rational side of the mind. 

Generally, the Moon is more important when examining a chart for mental health.  A strong Moon without affliction will usually give a person an inner stability and an ability to recover from life's many challenges.  A Moon that is weakened through association with malefic planets, however, becomes vulnerable to depression, anxiety and in some extreme cases, even suicide. 

We don't know Bourdain's birth time, but we do know he was born June 25,1956 in New York.  Even using the approximated noon chart, we can see the Moon has problems.  It is aspected quite closely by Saturn, Ketu, Uranus, and Neptune. Saturn casts its full-strength 3rd house aspect (i.e. sextile) within a few degrees.  Saturn is the planet most closely connected with depression.  People who were born with the Moon aspected by Saturn aren't always depressives, however.  Some, and perhaps even most, are merely deep thinkers, introverts and people who do not readily show their emotions.  The Moon rules the mind so Saturn tends to introduce a kind of default heaviness into the person's emotional spectrum.  In some cases, it manifests as pessimism (glass half-empty), a tendency towards rumination, and sadness.

Ketu also formed a fairly close trine aspect (i.e a 5th house Vedic aspect).  Ketu-Moon aspects are associated with the ability to make quick insights and have intuitive knowledge.  It can also destabilize the mind to some extent depending on other factors.  Ketu (South Lunar Node) erases boundaries and allows us to see beyond conventional reality.  Ketu-Moon people may simply be bored with mundane life and are drawn towards the offbeat, the unusual and the bizarre.  They can detach themselves from their surroundings and perceive other facets of reality.  This was definitely true of Bourdain who often sought out the most unusual and strange foreign foods on his programs.  He avoided the staid and everyday wherever possible and focused on the richness of authentic local cultures around the world.

But the Moon was even more vulnerable because of the t-square with Uranus and Neptune.  Uranus-Moon aspects are typically destabilizing as the person can be prone to doing unpredictable things. Uranus-Moon people typically seek out novelty and avoid the mainstream, just as Bourdain so famously did.  The Uranian prizes individuality and uniqueness above all else. 

The Moon-Neptune square is no less problematic as it can create mental confusion and can lead to a person who desires to live outside of reality.  While it can fuel the imagination and creativity in a positive way, it opens up the possibly for problems for keeping one's feet on the ground.  Bourdain's public history of drug addition when he was younger is a classic manifestation of a Moon-Neptune square.  Neptunians seek transcendence and want to merge with the Infinite, either through art, dreams, devotion or, sometimes, drugs and alcohol.

Bourdain's Moon was very heavily aspected by these malefic planets and most of them had obvious downsides, regardless of whatever artistic and emotional gifts they may have bestowed.   Note that the Moon did not receive aspects from any benefic planets like Jupiter, Venus or Mercury which might have acted as a buffer.  His Moon was clearly under a lot of planetary stress all his life.

The rational side of the mind is seen through the condition of Mercury.  Mercury was tightly squared by Mars, the planet of speed, action and assertion.  Mars-Mercury squares can give quick wit and intelligence (literally: thinking quickly), but there can be a tendency to act and speak rashly and impulsively.  The police investigation into his death suggested it was an impulsive act without much planning. 

So we can see the tragic combination of factors acting upon both of his mental planets, the Moon and Mercury.  It was the combination of five planets in his natal chart that made Bourdain's suffering lifelong and extreme and that led to his suicide: depression (Saturn), detachment (Ketu), Uranus (unpredictability), Neptune (delusion), Mars (impulsivity, violence).  While many people have one or two of these planets associated with the Moon or Mercury, it is very uncommon for five planets to have significant alignments.  The more planetary afflictions to the Moon and Mercury, the more likely a person will have mental health issues. 

The tragic intersection of sadness and action on June 8th

At the time of his death, his chart was under pressure from the Mars-Ketu conjunction, Saturn and Uranus.  Depending on his exact time of birth, the Mars-Ketu conjunction (13 Capricorn) was fairly close to his Moon (7 Capricorn) and would have caused agitation, detachment and an increased likelihood of sudden and violent actions.  The Mars-Ketu also aligned exactly with his natal Ketu (14 Taurus).  This Ketu-to-Ketu transit can disrupt normal perceptions and behaviour and is often found in unstable circumstances.  The Mars involvement suggests the possibility of harsh and violence action.  Saturn (13 Sagittarius) was opposite his Sun (10 Gemini) and no doubt created a sense of oppressiveness and heaviness.  His sense of vitality would have been depressed by the Saturn aspect and he would have been more likely to have feelings of disappointment and hopelessness. 

And to top it off, Uranus (7 Aries), the planet of instability and suddenness, squared his Moon.  This would have made him more likely to take chances without thinking or just behave in strange ways.  In the quiet of his hotel room, he may have felt depressed as he often did, but on this occasion, he had the energy to act on his innermost demons.  His sadness was tragically articulated with an urge to act.  The Uranus and Mars took away the normal sense of duty to his family, to his friends and to his life, and took him over the edge. 

Could it have been prevented?  It's an impossible question.  And yet one of the assumptions of astrology is that anticipating future transits and trends has a purpose and a value.  A person can adapt to changing circumstances if necessary, or change their behaviour in a way that is more helpful. 

If Bourdain had consulted with an astrologer at this time, I'm sure he would have been warned to be careful given the toxic mix of transits he was facing in June.  He would have been advised to seek help and to even avoid being alone if possible.  Who knows if it could have made a difference.  But certainly, if a particularly bad period appears on the horizon and measures are taken to deal with it constructively and compassionately, then there is the possibility of coming out from it safely on the other side.   Unfortunately, Anthony Bourdain didn't get that chance.  He will be dearly missed.