Being a participant in sibling rivalry in my own family, I found myself thinking immediately of suicide when I heard of Chris Penn’s death yesterday. Sean Penn is one of the noted actors of a generation and Michael Penn has received a fair amount of press as a musician, yet in researching Chris Penn’s life for this article I could find very little information on him other than news of his death in a Santa Monica apartment. No mansion, no wife. The little information that I could find appeared to suggest that he was single and had never married, and evidently his short tenure on Law and Order ended last year. I find myself wondering, what was Chris Penn really like, and how did he die? The latest press reports tell of “natural” causes, but what is a natural cause of death at age 43? I had to find out more about Chris’s life, and to wonder if he was stifled in the shadow of the brilliant light surrounding his brothers Sean and Michael.

Looking at his birthchart, I discovered that Chris was a Libra, the sign of balance and relationships. Libra is the peacemaker, the one who often sacrifices himself in order to achieve harmony in the relationships around him. Libras typically yearn to be in partnership with another, there is a strong desire to be married, to have a best friend, a one-on-one relationship in ones personal and business lives. His Moon, however, was in Aries, the sign ruled by Mars, showing us that in order to feel truly safe and secure emotionally (Moon) he had a strong need to express his own self and manifest his own will and desires (Aries). The tension between the desire to please others (Libra) and the need to put himself first (Aries) can be a difficult one and requires a great deal of awareness to balance.

Chris was born when the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of 1965 was exact within one minute. This was an incredibly powerful planetary event that fused the revolutionary fervor of Uranus with the upheaval and transformational urge of Pluto, and fostered the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Those who were born at this time carry that intensity within them and many have had a very difficult time coping with life. In Chris Penn’s chart the Uranus/Pluto conjunction opposed both Saturn and Chiron, both of which were retrograde. Saturn represents discipline, hard work and creates limitations for us that cause us to work harder and ultimately gain success. Saturn retrograde reveals an individual who was extremely self-critical, and combined with the wounding/healing of Chiron, also retrograde, this is a very difficult placement. Those psychic wounds are continually being exposed for healing, which is Chiron’s job, but Saturn’s negative self-talk makes that healing extremely difficult.

This conjunction of Saturn and Chiron were trine (harmonious aspect) to Neptune in Chris’s chart, facilitating his acting ability as Neptune brings creativity as well as a yearning for a connection with the spiritual side of life.

Chris would have had a very difficult time during 2004 and 2005 when transiting Pluto challenged the Uranus/Pluto opposition to Saturn/Chiron, setting off all of his issues around failure (Saturn)/wounding (Chiron)/lack of power (Pluto)/need to break out and achieve a level of freedom (Uranus). However, his current planetary cycles seem relatively benign, including a large number of transits by Jupiter. We often see transits of Jupiter in a death chart, since Jupiter can free us from situations that are keeping us from achieving our dreams. Seeing this many Jupiter transits at the time of death brings to mind a sense of release, of liberation from a painful life. Chris Penn’s progressed Moon was conjunct his natal Sun and opposing his natal Moon over the two-day period preceding his death, suggesting an emotional (moon) catalyst of some sort.

Life and death are rarely truly what we imagine them to be. I’ll be updating this analysis as more details become available.

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