This article has been sitting in my drafts all year(s), so in honor of Uranus’ retrograde station, please enjoy this Centaur astrology piece just updated ‘from the archives’!
The Centaurs are prominent in the lifestory of writer and gymnast Dan Millman, author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior (published in 1980) and its sequels. We at the Centaur Space have exclusive access to a timed birth chart (thanks, Dad!), as well as the date of the week he met the real mentor who inspired the character of “Socrates” in Warrior. The peaceful part of his nativity includes Sun, Mercury, and Venus in Pisces (ruled by Jupiter in Libra, with Chiron). Natal warrior-planet Mars relaxes in Cancer (along with sullen Saturn, each one a malefic planet far from home). His Scorpio Moon completes the watery grand trine, and conjoins Chariklo; in delineation, if we are looking for signs of transformational potential, a luminary conjunct a Centaur attracts the eye. In Scorpio, a desire and ability to enter the Mysteries. Chiron trines Okyrhoe, so any mentor figure might be one who speaks unconventional truths. Jupiter trines the Seventh House North Node in Gemini, which itself is disposited by a very Jupiterian Mercury in mid-Pisces (which is sign-, decan-, and term-ruled by Jupiter). The potential for meeting (North Node) a spiritual teacher (Jupiter) is strongly foretold in this nativity.
From the Wikipedia plot summary of Peaceful Warrior, we are reminded that all good Mysteries begin with a confrontation with Death (Pluto). The chasm is bridged by an encounter with a Chiron/Mercury type psychopomp – his future teacher.
The story begins when Dan experiences a series of nightmares, where he is in a dark lane. In front of him is Death, about to claim his life, when an old man appears out of nowhere and confronts Death. One particular night, Dan heads out to an all night gas station, where he meets the same old man from his dreams.
Their meeting took place in Berkeley, CA “between Christmas and New Year, 1966”; we can approximate that as December 27, 1966. On holiday from college athletics, Dan’s unexpected encounter with an enlightened Zen-mechanic-trainer transformed his competitive life into a humble journey to the heart.
During that Christmas vacation, the Saturn-Uranus opposition in the sky aligned to Dan’s MC-IC axis. A fine time to meet an unusual teacher. Transiting his Immum Coeli, place where we access ancestry and Earth wisdom, Saturn near 24° Pisces was joined by Chiron at 22° Pisces, too: his mentor would be a spiritual maverick. With this outer-planet axis aligning with Okyrhoe’s Discovery Degree, things got more centauric, calling in a prophetic and magical figure. At the time of this fortunate meeting, Chariklo was applying close to Dan’s Sun, within a quarter of a degree. He was about to get infused with a healing dose of love. Born under Chariklo’s conjunction to the Moon, the planet of Grace’s transit of his Sun brought a spiritual mentor in his life, through whom he also met the love of his life, a fellow traveler along the eccentric path taught by Chironic “Socrates”. Destiny is seen to have graced his way through the lunar South Node which transited Dan’s potent Chariklo-Moon. Meeting this teacher fulfilled the natal promise, and a Peaceful Warrior was born.
When they met, Dan’s Centaur Progressed* Sun traveled within a few degrees of Chariklo’s Discovery Degree (an acceptable orb for an approximate date; the Sun would transit this degree within the week), also conjunct Centaur Progressed Uranus. This exemplifies a reciprocal transit** between Chariklo and Sun (as he was experiencing Chariklo-Sun unions in both the transiting and Centaur Progressed dimensions). The astrological effect is that Chariklo expands his awareness beyond the physical body, manifesting as Dan’s transformation from a star college athlete to spiritual aspirant. In fact, Dan suffered a terrible leg injury just after meeting his mentor, who becomes a “Mr Miyagi” to his Karate Kid. They succeed in rehabilitating his fracture with physical discipline and spiritual training. Pleiadian degree symbol of the CP Sun at 4° Leo happens to be “An old wise man riding out of the forest on a stag,” which fits the shaman-like teacher who surpasses age 100 by the end of the book. Mercury opposite Pholus and Chiron guarantees there will be a story to tell, full of an unexpectedly psychedelic healing wisdom.
*Centaur Progressed: the Davison Relationship Chart of a person and notable event, a half-life chart for peak experience.
**Reciprocal transits happen when any type of A transits any type of B and vice versa. In Centaur work we often find this reciprocity activating between natal, progressed, and discovery degrees (which act as phantom places for Centaur transits, cf. Eleanor Bach’s “hidden aspects” to asteroids’ stationary degrees).
Introducing Magic Pixie Dreamer, a very limited edition collaborative offering of talismanic art painted by Abigail Soltis and talismans crafted by me – along with our first magical incense!
As subscribers to the Centaur Space you are getting first access to this beautiful array of devotional magic dedicated to the Muse of Astronomy and Astrology, Urania. The magical occasion happened as Okyrhoe, healing nymph of the Centaur clan, conjoined both Jupiter and asteroid Urania earlier this month. Abigail Soltis created a talismanic painting during the same window of time that I calligraphed the name of Urania in Greek (using the same charmed ink from the Neptune in Pisces series). We printed a small run of these when Jupiter and Neptune conjoined… they came out amazing, and are paired with a new Okyrhoe-Jupiter clay talisman, and Scent of the Muse (an herbal blend of Rosemary, Agrimony, St John’s Wort, and hand-picked Mugwort).
Just a brief blog to update you, my dear readers, on my recent magical pursuits: namely, those that I undertook during the recent (historic!) Neptune conjunction with the Sun, or Neptune cazimi. This event of March 12-13 2022 dovetails with so many Pisces transits that are active this year. It also resonates with history: the Neptune return of Mother Mary’s apparition to Saint Bernadette at Lourdes; the Okyrhoe return of the centaur planet’s own discovery, and the semi-return of Chariklo to her centaur discovery location too.
The tangible fruit of a many stepped astrological process are talismans of both Neptune and Mother Mary that you can see here. I explain all the elected steps in that writeup – from the Jupiterian influx of the previous New Moon (and Jupiter cazimi) through the Moon’s movement into a trine with the Pisces planets, from Cancer. My own experience was one of honing in the highest essence of Neptune, as a source of so much divine grace and ethereal healing. It’s no wonder that such an energy gets maligned (sometimes rightfully) in astrological discussion, since it does not always complement “this modern life.” This cuts to the heart of why Centaurs are so valuable to work with too, as a high dose of Neptune can be an overwhelming experience, by transit or in a natal chart (take it from me, with an angular Neptune in a t-square with personal planets!). Centaurs like Pholus hold smaller vessels filled with the potent medicine, and that is why we can call upon him to solve the lost-in-sea feeling, for a sip at a time. Then, why create Neptune materia at all?
Just as spiritual work can be done incrementally, with chosen moments of respite, retreat, and tuning in to the transcendent realm, energy work can be approached wisely. A formative experience for me as a child was receiving energy work from a true master, who knew how to turn it up or down as she transmitted healing rays into my spiritual body. Likewise, sometimes we need to turn it up to “11”, and at others a steady drip at “3 or 4” can ameliorate our situation. Magical Neptune is not quite astrological Neptune; since the very nature of magic is one of learning to relate with greater forces intentionally. In these talismans, mediated by the grace of Mother Mary, we have an agreement to help the holder with Neptunian compassion and divine grace. Meditating with the talismans can provide an opportunity to mindfully tune in to the Oceanic without diving all in. Poseidon is a great lifeguard, actually.
The Mother Mary amulets (as blessed objects not directly of a Planet) relate us to the healing waters of the spring at Lourdes, that young Bernadette opened under the direction of the apparitional Mary (to the scornful view of hundreds of gathered neighbors, as she scraped through the mud, fully entranced by the Divine Mother’s instructions). Hold, carry, dream near, or carry with you when connection with the highest compassion in the Solar System is needed.
With all the serious issues of our present moment, why write about the astrology of an old novel? I had put aside initial observations until I noticed that this week’s Aquarius New Moon marked the sixtieth anniversary of TheCentaur’s publication, February 4, 1962. Coincidentally that date was an Aquarius New Moon too – and an eclipse, and so much more!
The Centaur, an award-winning novel by American author John Updike, is an unexpected artifact of Centauric timing. Published fifteen years before the discovery of Chiron the planetoid, Updike’s magico-realistic romp through Ovid’s Metamorphoses reimagines Chiron as a twentieth-century American everyman. The father and son Caldwells narrate their chapters as symbolic Chiron and Prometheus (even though these are not mythic father and son). It can be read with as fine an allegoric lens as you’d like – it turns out all the characters are meant to be mythic stand-ins (a point Updike makes bold in an appendix). If I had read this novel before I found astrology, it would have been where I first laid eyes on the words Chariclo and Pholos, each featured in its early pages. Even Okyrhoe is mentioned by name!
From the dust jacket: “Seeking to pierce the shadow-line that separates human experience from the mythical dimension, the author …translates the agonized centaur’s search for relief into the incidents and accidents of three winter days spent in Pennsylvania in 1947.”
It is remarkable how the tribulations of protagonist George Caldwell – convinced of his own impending death, and troubled by fatherhood and career – are lived through the milestone of age fifty. Prefiguring the orbit of minor planet Chiron, the struggles recounted in this story would surely be read by a modern astrologer as befitting one’s Chiron Return. If we indulge in fictional astro-bilbiomancy, Updike gives his character a birthdate of December 21, 1896. Chiron is in Scorpio, with Saturn-Uranus conjunct in late Scorpio; Okyrhoe at the North Node in mid-Aquarius (this is foreshadowing), with Chariklo just into Aquarius too. Transits of January 1947, when the action unfolds, would, on top of the impending Chiron return, give death-obsessed George a mutual transit of the North Node to Pluto, Pluto to South Node. A doozy of Sisyphean proportions. Uranus to natal Mars-Neptune; suffice it to say that re-reading the book with these transits in mind “would track.”
An initial synchronicity from the press: Kirkus Reviews (February 1962), heralding this new book by “the most conspicuously talented younger writer of the decade,” notes how “…it reflects the effects on [the son,] as his orbit, physical and spiritual, closes in and stretches away from his father whom he senses needs a defender.” Such eloquent if accidental description of our undiscovered, eccentrically orbiting Centaur planets!
If an astrologer were consulted to help publish a book, two factors would be seen as avoidable: retrograde Mercury, and eclipses. Better find an easier time! The Centaur was published on February 4, 1962, and would win accolades, and critiques, despite or because of both astrological factors. (Although it was given the National Book Award, some have seen that as directed at his previous works, and not this one as such). This book was published against a backdrop of a rare Aquarian pile-up: the New Moon, at the lunar South Node – a Solar Eclipse; and Venus conjoined a Retrograde Mercury and Jupiter, with Mars and Saturn in-sign. Thus all the traditional planets were in Aquarius.
An astronomical event like this one did not escape public notice: the week’s headlines include “World ‘Survives’ Cluster of Planets and Eclipse,” reporting that astrologers in India and Europe alike were predicting the worst. “The evil Rahu swallowed the sun as predicted today, but things came back to normal,” reported the Associated Press (Feb 5, 1962) about a convergence in Aquarius some thought might cause a pole shift, or even the “Age of Aquarius”!
But what is more amazing, is that this also marked the conjunction of Centaurs Pholus and Chariklo – tightly under the eclipse as well, within a degree of the Sun. (The undiscovered Centaurs had conjoined two weeks before on January 14, at 13° Aquarius 25′.) Their synodic cycle was newly opening; after a dry century, these mighty Centaurs were preparing to meet thrice in fifty years (1962, 1989, 2014). Excluding quick Okyrhoe, 2014’s synod of Chariklo and Pholus would be the first post-discovery conjunction made by either of these planetary bodies with another major Centaur. So they conjoined first on an unprecedentedly Aquarian stellium-eclipse, then again just prior to their discovery, and then once again following their arrival into our known Solar system.
I’m writing on the heels of the Aquarius New Moon at 13°, conjunct “George Caldwell’s” Venus-Node-Okyrhoe, and perhaps more importantly, the 1962 Eclipse Stellium itself. Chariklo is nearing a return to that position, too (having also just marked “Caldwell’s” own second Chariklo return). That is to say, the book, and protagonist who imagines himself to be Chiron, are astrological precursors of our own transiting Chariklo (and, as I’ve noted before, this finds Chariklo elevated at her planetary North Node).
Who is our unwittingly Centauric oracle, this Mr. Updike? Born March 18, 1932, his natal chart strikes several quick Centaur notes at a glance: Moon at 8° Leo 26′ and North Node at 26° Pisces 11′ are each within 2° of the future discovery places of Chariklo and Okyrhoe, respectively. Birth Sun conjunct Vesta is not far, in late Pisces. Chiron is strong near the Midheaven, direct in Taurus and within orb of conjunction to its ruler Venus, also direct in Taurus. Part of Fortune conjunct Pholus in Capricorn brings that named character into view as well. Okyrhoe is also angular, in Placidus Tenth House Gemini. Mercury, conjunct Uranus, t-squares Juno-Chariklo-Pluto and Ceres. Mercury in Eighth House Aries gets a boost from its trine to Jupiter, and from being found in its own Egyptian term, giving essential dignity to Updike’s own “writer’s star.”
At the time of this lauded publication, Uranus was exactly conjunct his precisely timed Leo Ascendant (conjunct bright star Regulus, the king maker). The eclipse and all the rest were exactly opposed his natal Twelfth House Jupiter, and in sextile to natal Mercury. (Uranus passed over his Ascendant between October 1961–August 1962, in the lead-up and afterglow of publication).
In line with an “eclipsed Jupiter” transit, Updike won the National Book Award in 1964 for The Centaur, rather than for his better known Rabbit, Run (which, incidentally lost to a book named TheWaters of Kronos, suitably nympho-Titanic!). TheCentaur was also panned as awkward, heavy handed, and sex-obsessed. Whatever its literary value, the book stands as a premonition of things to come, eerily aligned with as-yet-unknown planetary bodies, speaking its titular creation into being and timed alongside its own Aquarian Age.
(Fascinating side note, because what else is astrology good for, the same date in 1962 was more famous as the founding of St Jude’s Hospital by Danny Thomas, an actor who had made a vow to that saint that if he became successful he would create a shrine in St. Jude’s name. On that day he exclaimed, “Anyone may dream, but few have realized a dream as gargantuan as this one.” Born January 6, 1912 with Chiron at 3° Pisces 36, this event celebrated his recent Chiron Return, with the Centaur then at 4° Pisces 53!)
Over the last month, the Moon has waxed and waned in interplay with distant planets, the Centaurs (first Pholus, then Okyrhoe and Nessus, and now Chariklo). This follows what Chiron began in spring, when he opposed the Libra Full Moon of March. Chiron is now retrograde, along with all these Centaurs. Retracing, re-aligning, reviewing are retrograde themes, here applied in terms of our energy, emotion, health, and interpersonal awareness.
Now it is summer up north and we are amid the Full Moons that follow Eclipses. June’s Capricorn Full Moon (FM) was the first of two sequential lunations in Saturn-ruled signs that also closely conjoined Centaurs. The first highlighted Pholus Retrograde in early Capricorn – and then July’s Aquarius FM closely conjoined Chariklo. Now retrograding through early Aquarius, Chariklo will spend the autumn back in Capricorn – criss-crossing her (heliocentric) North Node at 0 Aquarius 42. Consistently, the New and Full Moons of summer 2021 interact with the Centaurs in ways that accelerate and intensify the effects of these lunations while clarifying their meanings for us.
It is mid-2021, and clouds of fire gather. Turkey and Greece have grappled with catastrophic fires caused by climate change and worsening the refugee crisis. In the USA, forest fires send smoke that carries into lungs situated on the farther coast, adding to the billows of billionaire exhaust from burning excess capital to kindle fever dreams of interspace colonialism of men who have accumulated too much. In the words of ska band Ruder Than You, there’s a “Space shuttle blowing off in my face/ but we got something here called the human race” / “Shooting all our money off into the air, but what comes down won’t feed you.” (Swallow Blood)
In contrast to this status quo, we can look to the example of Chariklo, whose rainfalls of grace are apparent in July’s Aquarian Pleiadian Symbol: “From a blue sky a torrent of rain suddenly begins to fall.” With the Aquarian Full Moon channeling Chariklo, we can too as we breathe (when and where possible) into the potential to make greater healing space for all of us down here on Earth.
2021’s major aspect, playing out everywhere, is the square between Saturn and Uranus; an aspect of strife, the quaking earth gives way to new forms or else. These two outer planets also demarcate essential Centaur turf: most centaur planets orbit within that range of distance from the Sun falling between Saturn and Uranus, with some like Pholus and Nessus extending toward Neptune’s dimension too.
Chiron and Chariklo each inhabit this realm of friction between the known and unknown. It is the static electricity generated by their transits between these layers of experience (of the embodied and the etheric) that make Centaurs so exciting to know and work with.
2020 itself was marked by the cardinal square between Chiron and Pholus (implicated strongly in the pandemic). Chariklo was always front and center in the year’s action, making a stellium of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in 2020, and with the Great Conjunction, as she trailed into the sign of Aquarius weeks after the giants did.
The Great Conjunction in early Aquarius already helped us ring in the year that would follow 2020: Jupiter and Saturn together launched the fully fledged Age of Air. They met (as we’ve noted) at the place on the zodiac where centaurs Pholus and Chariklo both intersect the ecliptic (their planetary Nodes) – also conjunct July’s Aqua FM.
Incidentally, July’s New Moon (NM) in Cancer served to guide us through these lunations: firstly, because all New Moons in Luna’s own sign may inherently be times for healing; also because this Moon began its new cycle with Sol in an exact trine to Okyrhoe – the daughter of Chiron and Chariklo. As Oracle, she is the nymph counterpart to Pholus (at least metaphysically). This Cancer NM linked our story from the “lid coming off” to finding our soul amid the wreckage, those themes which Moons linking Pholus and Chariklo can afford us. Okyrhoe is still conjunct fellow Centaur Nessus, so the New Moon aspected each of these healing planets and boosted their presence in our lives.
As I’ve explained elsewhere, the present Okyrhoe-Nessus conjunction is an unusual factor in the year’s unfolding, as it lasts all year long, only happens every third decade, and being in Pisces refers back to the conjunction of 1900 in particular (see this lecture*). There I’ve showed how and why decolonization (and hopes of truth and reconciliation) applies to the yearlong Okyrhoe-Nessus conjunction of 2021-2022. (Briefly cited in that lecture is the theme of labor strikes, especially among miners! This theme is recapping now as well, see: Alabama.)
If Pholus blows the lid right off situations (and he does!) then a Full Moon was sure to move that process along. What popped off for you, and society, in June? One of its most heart-rending manifestations springs forth from below the colonialist underworld in Canada and the USA in tragic testament to the power of the Centaurs, especially those like Nessus which traverse toward the Plutonian sphere. The past months have brought to light the unmarked graves of thousands of native children in the earth around Christian re-education camps. Pholus exposes what is chthonic, and who along with Nessus is a psychopomp to the Plutonic realms. Pholus patiently awaits the visitor to his cave deep below the earth, and pours out visionary brew to the worthy guest. The keyword with Pholus is catharsis, which can be a painful experience even when necessary for healing. Speaking in Canada, indigenous professor Niigaanwewidam Sinclair of Manitoba University said: “Now is the time to create a country different than that which we have inherited.”
To quote astrologer Hummingbird Star, writing at Activist Astro: “The surfacing of these remains is so literal to the moment we are in: hard proof, literally buried skeletons, the bones left by the life-eating forces of colonialism…” She notes how Canada appears to be ahead of the USA in facing its collective, colonial shadow. The existence of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established in 2007 through 2015 shows that to be the case (although evaluating it is beyond our scope). As for the USA, “Could anything built on so much death, so much stealing, so many horrors, possibly be “great”? From an energetic and spiritual standpoint, there’s no question here… If you understand the reality of America, you understand that “focusing on the positive” is like prepping for a deadly hurricane by saying positive affirmations. The shadow of this country is CATCHING UP.” Naturally this “shadow work” aligns with the biggest of all planetary cycles, the Pluto Return which is coming up in February 2022 – and comprises a double Nessus Return, too.
On the other hand, the guide to the Full Moons that followed is healer Chariklo, closely conjunct July’s Aqua FM. Chariklo at her North Node is poised. She is where she is supposed to be. As the Sun entered the tropical sign of Leo, it lit up the Nodal Axis of these centaurs, preparing for the Full Moon conjunct Chariklo near her own North Node. An opportunity to receive her graces in fulfillment of her potential with and for us. A Full Moon with Chariklo is a healing lunation.
Societally, her presence marking the Full Moon that hits during so many retrogrades (just after Mercury’s final direct motion past Neptune) casts a bright light on how healing must occur and progress can be made, or there is no hope. Recent revelations are painful in the extreme for the native communities who mourn their relatives. Hope comes from transfer of leadership positions (and land) into indigenous hands. We can look to inspiration from the first indigenous Governor General in Canada (Mary Simon), and the USA’s first Native American Cabinet Secretary (Deb Haaland). May they be the “Small Cause and Big Effects” of justice in the 21st Century.
It is worth noting that Sec. Haaland was born with Chariklo in Aquarius, too. At her birth on 12/2/60, the healing centaur was precisely opposed to its future discovery placement in Leo. She also has Jupiter and Saturn widely conjunct in Capricorn, at the waning phase of the Age of Earth’s Great Conjunction. As Secretary of the Interior at this pivotal moment, she is a rare leader empowered at the right time, and has launched an investigation into the history (and preservation of) sites within the present United States.
We do not read headlines bearing words like “generational healing” and “old wounds” that often, but these have found their way into the front page during these cathartic lunations. “Post-pandemic,” there is a collective desire to return to “normal”, to live life as we once did. Yet we are living in the present and not the past. Chariklo’s sense of personal space as sacred space, as living joyfully within one’s boundaries, leads the way for us to remain centered in our sense of evolving social contracts. Now, with the Leo New Moon already waxing (and marking the anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons, against the people of Japan, in 1945), we are in a rare window between two Aquarius Full Moons. The second, on August 22 will conjoin Jupiter. This week’s New Moon conjoined asteroid Pompeja 203- a body brought to my attention by an article about how the asteroid’s bright red color indicates how it (along with Justitia 269) may actually be a former Centaur, trapped within Jupiter’s gravity to become a main-belt asteroid. The planets that are deepest red are, incidentally, Pholus and Nessus.
Of course the subject of this asteroid’s name connotes what is preserved after the destructive forces of earth overwhelms a civilization. The asteroid’s discovery degree of 17° Aries (where it transited on 9/25/1879) speaks through the symbol “An ancient crone and her shadow talking to each other.”
Having passed through the “Lion’s Gate portal” of 8/8, aligned with the New Moon of Leo conjunct proto-centaur Pompeja, the Moon waxes toward Aquarian Jupiter for the next Full Moon. Later, September’s New Moon of Virgo will precisely align opposite Okyrhoe and Nessus. At least the long road to healing looks like it is clearly marked ahead.