The chart looks like a rough-cut diamond with many facets – an apt symbol for Oscar Wilde the brilliant dandy who entertained society with his plays, shocked the Victorian world with his homosexuality, invented today’s celebrity cult and left posterity many witty epigrams such as “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
In the radix, the diamond is more polished in the upper hemisphere. In the house chart, more in the lower hemisphere. It was indeed more important to Wilde to present his smooth, refined side to the collective which enabled him to develop his talent, creating two Small Talent Triangles in the process. And he perfected his pose to such a degree that people saw only the blue Venus aspects: the genial side of him. The title of Joseph Pearce’s biography The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde reflects his multifaceted nature.
True to Wilde’s flashy style, his chart is made up mostly of the more ‘glitzy’ structures such as the Provocative Figure, the Trapeze, the Oscillo, the UFO and the Streamer. To look at all of the aspect structures – and to see how they are reflected in Wilde’s age point progression – is beyond the scope of this article. I am therefore focusing on the figures in the House chart that give or take smooth or rough facets to and from the diamond in Wilde’s Age Point Progression: the two Small Talent Triangles energised by the opposition on the Thinking Axis and the missing Projection Figure and UFO.
A Colourful Character
What stands out in the chart are the many green aspects. Both in the natal and the house charts, there is a surplus of these thought aspects enveloping the opposition on the Thinking Axis running through Wilde’s core. And indeed, he never stopped thinking and writing, other than during his first months in prison when paper and pen were not allowed and after his release in Paris, when he was down and out, living in a garret, often begging. With the red well hidden by all the green and blue aspects, few knew what was behind his mask.
The opposition on the Thinking Axis could be what underlay the contradictory character of his writing. Pearce shows how Wilde’s literary criticism – his 3rd-house Mercury in Scorpio with that sting in the tail – repeatedly contradicted his innovative art – his 9th-house Uranus in cordial Taurus. Pearce describes this polarity beautifully: “His higher self, emerging triumphant in his art, still clung, almost unwillingly, to the religious sensibility which had accompanied him throughout his life. His lower self, pouring forth epigrams at the dinner table or in his criticism, sought licentious liberation from the constraints that his higher self, the voice of conscience, sought to impose.”
The environment enabled Wilde to develop his formidable talents in two specific areas, giving the diamond its polished finish with four sextiles – thanks to Two Small Talent Triangles. Up to the age of 35, he presented all the good traits of Venus: charm, refined aesthetic sense and affability. In the radix, Venus is unaspected and could therefore ‘run wild’. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for his promiscuity which he described, in prison, as erotomania – what we call sex addiction today.
But in the house chart, Venus is linked to Mars and the Moon in the Small Talent Triangle on the I-side. She is in Libra in the 1st house. Wilde certainly asserted the woman in him with his elegant manner and aesthetic taste and later with his homosexuality. When his age point squared Venus in 1876, he fell in love with Florence Balcombe in Dublin, particularly with her beauty. He was heartbroken when she married Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula. The next year, he longed to convert to Catholicism as indicated by the quincunx to the Moon. Instead he joined the Freemasons with their pomp and quasi-religious rituals, for as he wrote to a friend, “to go over to Rome would be to sacrifice (…) my two great gods ‘Money and Ambition.’” Could these gods be his Sun in the house of personal possessions and Jupiter in the house of self-expression?
With Venus linked to a widely read and communicative Mars by a sextile, the male and female side of Wilde developed to his heart’s content as suggested by the trine to the Moon. It is noteworthy that his Venus was opposed in 1894 – the time of the impending charge of “gross indecency” – the Victorian world did not accept Wilde’s version of Venus.
The other Small Talent Triangle has Mercury, Jupiter and Neptune at its angles and is predominantly on the YOU-side. It involved his targeted quicksilver thinking (Mercury in Sagittarius on the 3rd house cusp), his authoritative impression on the social scene (Jupiter in Capricorn on the 5th house cusp) and his highly imaginative creative work, his art (Neptune in Pisces in the 6th house.) His immense creative talent started with poetry and literary criticism and moved on to enchanting fables for children – he loved his two sons – a single novel and many plays.
Both Small Talent Triangles get their energy from the red aspects to Mercury, directly or indirectly via the opposition.
The Projection Figure
With Saturn on the MC, the highest point in the chart, both Oscar and his mother wanted to stand out from the crowd. Lady Wilde was 6 feet tall and she “exerted a giant’s influence on the development of her son’s personality” according to Pearce. Perhaps this underlay one of Wilde’s famous epigrams: “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.” This contradicted Wilde’s life – he was made in the image of his mother. (Another good example of how the opposition between Mercury in the 3rd house and Uranus in the 9th house often had Wilde showing one thing in his life and the opposite in his art.)
Saturn is at one end of the screen of the Projection Figure. On the other side is the Moon in a leonine 11th house. With the Moon as his strongest ego planet, there is nothing that made Wilde feel better than making a powerful impression on like-minded people. But the film projected by Jupiter – of being an exceptional authority in thinking and writing and a leonine power with like-minded people – never materialised in the house chart: the sextile between the Moon and Saturn is missing. Does this suggest that Oscar would no longer be “looking at the stars?”
In the two Projection Figures in the house chart, the focus of Wilde’s consciousness is not up, but down. In the first figure, his authoritative Saturn now shows a picture of the imposing intellectual force Wilde had indeed become to audiences in England, Ireland and America – his lecturing and posturing won him great acclaim. In the second, the Moon is showing a movie of his Olympian creative talent, of Jupiter and Neptune in full force. There is nothing Wilde enjoyed more than an audience!
High Points in Age Point Progression
Born in Dublin to Sir William, Ireland’s leading ophthalmologist, and Lady Jane Wilde, Oscar grew up in a salon atmosphere and soon acquired his mother’s social habits and flamboyance in dress style. Could she be the Venus he first encountered at age 4? She was a poet who was exceptionally skilled in the English language, winning acclaim for her translation of Meinhold’s Sidonia the Sorceress. Her linguistic brilliance had a deep influence on her son and his later writing.
Learned as his father was – Oscar experienced the essence of his Sun at age 8 – he was also a philanderer and had several illegitimate children. Was Wilde’s promiscuity genetic or was it fired up by Jupiter in the 5th house of social interactions, sexual adventures and self- expression?
As a bright and bookish child, Wilde fell in love with Greek and Roman studies, winning the school prize for the top classics student. During the Mars conjunction in 1870/71 (his Mars is in the 3rd house of learning), Wilde was awarded a scholarship to attend Trinity College. When Neptune, his creativity, was activated by the age point in 1872, he not only came first in the school’s classics examination; he also received the college’s Foundation Scholarship, the highest honour awarded to undergraduates. In 1874 the Sun sextile gave him two great gifts: a gold medal for being Trinity’s best student in Greek and a scholarship for further study at Magdalen College in Oxford. At Oxford, Wilde continued to excel academically, receiving top marks in Classics. He now started his creative writing.
Shifts in Consciousness
1878 was a fortuitous year for Wilde. His age point was conjunct Jupiter – that planet operating the projector in the house chart. He graduated from Oxford and his poem Ravenna won the Newdigate Prize for the best English verse composition by an Oxford undergraduate. With both his age point and the C1 on the cusp of the 5th house, Wilde was set to make an unforgettable impression on the social scene.
In 1882 when his age point had entered philosophical Aquarius, Wilde travelled from London to New York City for an American lecture tour: he presented a staggering 140 lectures on Aesthetics in just nine months. Through his lectures, as well as his early poetry, Wilde became a major force in the aesthetic movement with his theory of art and literature that emphasised the pursuit of beauty for its own sake. He didn’t believe art should promote any political or social viewpoint.
In 1883 when Wilde was courting a wealthy, beautiful Englishwoman, Constance Lloyd, his consciousness was opposing the Moon. Does this suggest that he was going against the grain of his emotional nature? They married in 1884 and went to Paris. It is noteworthy that during their honeymoon there, he met the decadent French poets – Verlaine and Mallarmé amongst others, and would henceforth prefer to be with men.
Under the last polished facet of the diamond, the Jupiter/Neptune sextile, Wilde started a series of relationships with men. From 1885, he was editor of Lady’s World, a magazine that, as he wrote, “should be made the recognised organ for the expression of women’s opinions on all subjects of literature, art and modern life, and yet it should be a magazine that men could read with pleasure.” Sounds like the Venus/Mars sextile speaking!
From the Smooth to the Rough
In 1888, when Wilde’s age point had entered Pisces in the 6th house and was approaching Neptune which it would traverse a year later, Wilde’s creativity was on an all-time high. Nearly all of his great literary works were published, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, a collection of children’s stories; Intentions, an essay on aestheticism, and his first and only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Pearce points out the autobiographical nature of this novel. It is about a beautiful young man, Dorian Gray, (based on one of Wilde’s lovers at the time) who wishes that his portrait ages while he remains youthful and lives a life of sin and pleasure. Says Pearce: “The metaphysical reality is to be found in the portrait which becomes the mirror of his soul, the ugly truth staring him uncomfortably in the face.” Did Wilde pre-empt the ugliness of his own life over the next years? Victorian critics were outraged by the book’s apparent lack of morality. Wilde vehemently defended himself in a preface to the novel, stating “vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.” But the diamond was beginning to lose its smooth facet. The house chart also loses its UFO, that unknown energy with its fascinating attraction.
Over the next few years, Wilde produced several great plays – witty, highly satirical comedies of manners that nevertheless contained dark and serious undertones. His most notable plays were A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), his most famous play. But all the acclaim couldn’t cover what was going on while his age point was moving through the 7th house of close, personal relationships, particularly the one with Lord Alfred Douglas whose father called Wilde a ‘sodomite.’
Wilde sued him for libel, but with his age point approaching the cusp of the 8th house, he would have to pay his dues to the Victorian society. The resulting court case led to Wilde’s imprisonment for two years. It was indeed the time of sex and death – Wilde as the world had known him, his mother and wife all died. So did his relationship with his two sons – he was legally forbidden to bring them up or see them upon his release.
Rebirth came in the form of Wilde’s return to his religious reading in prison with Dante as his guide. His writing of the long letter De Profundis, while in jail, helped him move out of the purgatory he was in. This piece of writing once again shows the opposition at Wilde’s core: it is “a sweet and sour compound of bitter reproachfulness and spiritual serenity” as Pearce writes.
In 1897 adventurous Jupiter was put into gear by Wilde’s age point, but Wilde emerged from prison too physically and emotionally exhausted to go with it. His focus on the stars had blurred. This facet of the diamond (from Saturn to the Moon) which had the potential to be smooth, became rough. Now that he was persona non grata in England, he fled to France, where the era of the decadents had come to an end. He lived in poverty and died of meningitis in 1900 at the age of 46. It was during the time his age point reached the low point of the 8th house of transformation, and he was face to face with Pluto, the Lord of the Underworld.
Wilde’s witty, imaginative and undeniably beautiful works are considered among the great literary masterpieces of the late Victorian period. He was a great writer. He was also a groundbreaker for homosexuals, a role which caused him great suffering. But in the 70s, almost a century later, his homosexuality was celebrated by the gay movement across the world. He had become the Patron Saint of Homosexuals.
Thank you for this insightful and beautifully written profile of a great artist. I was impressed by you Age Point analysis with certain important life events. What a life?
Undone by unaspected Venus in the 1st house in the Natal Chart. Intriguing how it links into the aspect structure in the House Chart bringing its issues into the public domain.