Continuous Discovery: Erminie Lantero’s Foundational Book & Chiron’s 45th Birthday

In honor of “Chiron’s Birthday”, November 1, the anniversary of the discovery of minor planet 2060, AKA Chiron, in 1977, it is fitting to take a look at the life of one of astrological Chiron’s earliest adopters. I was introduced to Ermine Lantero’s Continuing Discovery of Chiron by Melanie Reinhart, who spoke glowingly of this book, written about the harbinger of a class of new planets so soon after its discovery, by a woman who was enjoying the final decade of her life.

Erminie Lantero’s place in the lineage of Centaur astrology is a keystone, one nearly forgotten, or at least under-reported. A student of theology, then college teacher and editor of spiritual literature, later a science fiction enthusiast, before finding and making space for astrology, it seems that her long and winding road prepared her, at the age of 74, to become one of the first authors on minor planet Chiron. New research shows just how fated was this starry role – and how her life aligned with the Chiron archetype. This year Chiron transits around her natal Sun in mid-Aries, too.

What planetary propensities might an astrologer read into the little bio she wrote in Lamarada, her yearbook at Mount Holyoke College: “Erminie is interested in all kinds of initiations; that is the only thing about her which has not changed since Freshman year. She changed her major twice a year, and her philosophy of life once a week. She wanted to be an ascetic, but liked to eat too well.” Not quite Saturn, not quite Jupiter, but… someone who was a relation of each? Initiation is a resounding keyword of the master healer and teacher Chiron.

I began to write this with the thought that Erminie’s was the first book written on the subject;it turns out that while she had completed her writing before any other book was published, Richard Nolle’s Chiron: The Key to Your Quest was published a bit before hers. She notes her own anticipation of Nolle’s book in an appendix, where she cites one source already dated Feburary 1983, while Nolle’s was published in the summer of that year. Thus, these foundational texts of Chiron were written simultaneously, by two very different astrologers.

As a pioneering book on the subject, Lantero’s thrill of discovery carries us through the initial days and months after Charles Kowal realized that a photographic plate he took two weeks earlier depicted a tiny but new body in space. From November 1, 1977, it took astrologers only eight months to hold an ephemeris in their hands, thanks to cooperation with astronomers like Brian Marsden, and the persistence of Zane Stein and his Committee. Continuing Discovery reminds us of others whose names I’d not yet learned, such as Joelle Mahoney, a VP of the Congress of Astrological Organizations, who was the person on the phone with Kowal for the discovery details (and his birth date, naturally) and who organized the first ephemeris software to be written. And Lantero reminds us that it was James Neely, an astronomer, who programmed one of the first astrologer-friendly Chiron ephemerides, equipped with declination and retrograde stations.

These minutiae are worth mentioning here as such details can fall by the wayside as our astrological science evolves so rapidly, as the Solar system expands with the continuing discovery of the Kuiper Belt and the vast trans-Neptunian realms. Lantero’s early compendium of Chiron lore – both of its mythos and its more recent history, remains vital for drawing together so many sources from now faded analog forms of centaur-ephemera. While students of the minor planets now have access to online repositories of astro-banter dating “all the way back” to the internet’s early days of the 1990s, Chiron’s discovery fell in that liminal world of photocopied bulletins and long-distance telephone calls of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s: you can’t find this info anywhere else – at least I hadn’t. The elder writer’s excitement for the novelty of it all (the first time a planet was discovered in the age of technology) illuminates a work that feels both cozy and technical, replete with all the bibliographic references we expect from a writer who spent her career as a biblical scholar and editor.

But as she admits, “editors are frustrated writers,” and that frustration fueled a crisis that coincided with a later in life Chiron square. She found her way as an astrologer when, after “Progressed Sun reached her Pluto, she inadvertently stumbled into astrology,” aged approximately sixty-six. Thus she found astrology in 1973, four years prior to Chiron; and ten years prior to her book. The autobiographic morsels (delivered here in the style of an omniscient narrator, without revealing it is her own story she is writing) which she does share with us (in her chapter on “The Chiron Cycle”) are the most revelatory fragments about her life we have in her own words. She briefly mentions “childhood traumas and unusual family conditions.” While the following biographic information was not disclosed in the book by the admittedly “shy” Erminie Huntress Lantero, I consider that reaching a more fully sketched life story of one of our elders to be a gesture of respect.

When I received her Pendle Hill Pamphlet entitled Feminine Aspects of Divinity, I was surprised to see “Huntress” included in her name. Since she is styled simply “Erminie Lantero” in more recent book, I wondered if this was a spiritual epithet or nickname? Thanks to genealogical information now shared by her relatives on a public database[1], we see that Huntress is actually her maiden name; both that of her biological mother – and also of her adoptive parents. Her maternal uncle adopted after her mother died when she was four.

Erminie Lantero portrait

How Chironic than she was an adoptee! Raised by her mother’s brother and his wife, named Grace. As if she herself was one of the centaur’s brood of foster children to be nurtured by that spinner of grace, Chariklo, wife of Chiron. (This hits close to home for me, as Grace was raised in the small village in Massachusetts where my family presently resides.)

Chiron was himself adopted by Apollo after Philyra rejected her halfling son. Likewise he raised the son of Apollo, Asclepius, who became a god of healing under his tutelage. Chiron and Chariklo fostered many heroes and healers including Achilles, who in the Iliad is praised for his healing abilities.

According to her own rectified birthchart, her Ascendant in mid-Virgo is very close to the degree which, as Robert Blaschke[2] observed, is a potent point in Chiron’s discovery chart: both the Sun-Moon and Venus-Mars midpoint, which bears degree symbols tying it further to the Chiron myth, in ways that Erminie herself lived out. 11° Virgo: “As a boy ages he looks less and less like his mother” (Pleiadian), from the Sabian version “A boy molded in his mother’s aspirations for him” (Marc Edmund Jones’ Sabian Symbols, 1953).

While this is not the degree symbol for the Ascendant as per Erminie’s own rectification, the data as given does actually place her Ascendant at 11° 14 Virgo! Thus, close to Chiron’s double midpoint and that evocative symbol. (The conjectural Ascendant of 13° Virgo 14 as shared on page 108 of Chiron is listed as “Chart 13, Astrologer”, with “Time speculative, partly rectified”). Thanks to astrologer Tieshka Smith[3] for casting the correct chart with modern software. Although Virgo 14’s Sabian: “A family tree” (Jones 1953) is relevant in the present context as well!

Following the death of her husband, Erminie found time “to catch up with all that had happened in astronomy since one of her most thrilling childhood memories: the day her father first explained to her in detail that the Earth was a planet, and there were also other planets circling around the sun.” After a series of eclipses to her outer planets, “she suspected she had been an astrologer once before, in the Middle Ages, and resolved to devote her next lifetime entirely to astrology.” (p.108). (The Jan. 1973 Capricorn Solar eclipse fell near her Uranus, and June 1973 Cancer Solar eclipse fell close to her Neptune)[4]

Her own second waxing Chiron square found her in an existential and health crisis, after a period when she struggled to balance her editorial work with her new-found love of astrology.

“She suspected the decisive factor behind it all was Chiron in 9th house squaring Chiron in 6th” (p.110),  in addition to “unwelcome attention from all the slow movers” including Neptune opposite Pluto-Ceres and Uranus square Moon. With Chiron breathing down her back, Erminie had to fight her own death-wish, realizing that “she must not die because she had not yet done her bit to release Prometheus…,” her astrological wisdom for humanity.

Thanks also to Smith for parsing out from the brief sketch just which eclipses the author mentions as catalyzing her path back toward astrology and on to Chiron: August 10, 1980, marking her spiritual and health crisis. Then “on a February eclipse exact on her Chiron” she began to write this book. (Feb 4 1981 eclipse, 1 degree from her Chiron).

The second chapter of Continuing Discovery, “The Second Discovery: a Myth Almost Forgotten,” bridges that now-familiar mystery of how a planet’s name can express its namesake, a question which she explores methodologically in the next chapter, “Exploring the Present Meanings of the Planet Chiron.” From our present time, the willingness to explore how astrologers attempt to make meaning of the new planets remains one of the book’s strengths. She writes with the precision of a historian and provides all the bibliographic information one could hope for on both the mythology and the chaotic cross-firing of modern astrologers in the early days of the Centaur era.  The ‘archival details’ come back in full force with the appendix of “Late News Breaks: Summer-Fall 1982” (when I happened to be in gestation myself).

When I found John Updike’s novel The Centaur a year ago, I was amazed that it had utterly escaped my awareness till then. So I was pleased to find that in the final pages of Continuing Discovery (pp. 154-159), Erminie gives her own book report on George Caldwell, the titular Centaur whose family includes a Promethean son and a Chariclo-analogous wife. Lantero notes how “there is something very strange in the timing of the story. Both Caldwell’s father and he himself die on their Chiron return, and Caldwell’s birth and death occur within a year or so of successive perihelions of the planet – although the novel was written … before anyone knew the planet existed.” Furthermore, Updike’s book was published on the Aquarian eclipse of February 4, 1962, one that was also conjunct both Chariklo and Pholus, two other Centaur planets, before anyone knew of their existence. (See my article on the astrology of its release here[5]).

Lantero wove together strands of a Centaur still in its infancy, and with her death in late 1992, left our world on the cusp of the Centaur Age when we discovered that the maverick was not a loner but a king of a wild domain of eccentrics. I wonder if in her final year, living at a senior home in the lineage of Rudolf Steiner, she learned about the discovery of Chiron’s first companion in the sky, Pholus (January 1992).

She observed how the new planet emerged in a zodiacal degree shared by her natal Vesta: a Priestess of this new-found flame. Where would the others be? Chiron’s kin, once found and named, how were they constellated in our protagonist’s natal chart? Moreover, what do they reveal about her synastry with the hoofed healer? Much as Updike wrote his George Caldwell as an uncanny Chiron character before the planet itself was known, Erminie followed the Promethean call to the Centaurs before she would be able to cast a chart full of them.

In this spirit we may examine some of the connections between Erminie and the discovery of those planets that arrived into our view mostly after she departed this plane. It appears they are rather intertwined!

Erminie Greene Huntress Lantero: born April 8, 1907, Hightstown NJ, 3:20 PM – speculative time (her own rectification).

Chiron is conjunct asteroid Asclepius (#4581, discovered in 1989) within 10 arc minutes (not shown, at 17° 20 Aquarius). A double signature of the healer, and also of the adoptee.

Factoring in Chariklo to her nativity, we find the Centaur Queen near the author’s Mercury-Saturn conjunction in Pisces. How fitting that she found astrology after her Chariklo return, and eased into the healing work beyond the merely academic route that her theological career veered toward (as signified by Mercury-Saturn in Pisces!). Nearby, Nessus approaches the eventual discovery degree of Okyrhoe, which implies a thirst for truth. Spiritual Jupiter-Neptune conjunct in a water sign, close to a Neptune-Uranus opposition which defined that era of revolutionary movement, (and which marks the epiphany of Rudolf Steiner, founder of what would be her chosen spiritual path at the end of her life).

Sun opposite Pholus, which is at the future discovery degree of Asbolus, in Libra, speaks to the need for ritual balance in life.

Her own lunar Nodes, at the end of Cancer/Capricorn, align exactly with the heliocentric planetary nodes of Pholus and Chariklo, bringing her life-path into the cosmic Centaur design.

Moon opposes Cyllarus…which we will return to.

Synastry with Centaur Chiron’s discovery (November 1, 1977): Of course this event is a transit in her life, but we can read it as the chart of a friend, too. “His” stellium at the Midheaven of Vesta with North Node and Pluto (which depicts the “mission” of transformation this planet brought) is conjunct her Pholus. A sudden reverie gives one their calling! And, as she noted, Chiron’s discovery placement conjoins her Vesta. She found her spark and the lamp that lit her path. She and Chiron share a Jupiter in Cancer within a degree: they are on the same spiritual wavelength (and as one of her four exalted planets, a strong basis for friendship).

Centauress painting by John LaFarge; maybe Hylonome!

Chiron’s Moon conjoin her Neptune, a sure sign of inspiration. His Pholus is near her Chariklo. The Centaur’s Saturn opposes her Moon, and her own Cyllarus meets Chiron’s Saturn and Part of Fortune. This connection opens an important thread of synastry between the Centaur and astrologer. Her husband, Peter Lantero, died in October 1963, with Saturn transiting her Chiron and approaching her Moon. Then her “cosmic teacher” emerged from the heavens when Saturn reached its opposition to her Moon.

It is startling that both Chiron and Erminie both have an exact opposition between centaur Cyllarus and the Moon. Further, both nativities share the trait of Cyllarus-Hylonome oppositions by sign. (This aspect is persistent throughout the 20th century, however!) These two centaurs are the “Romeo and Juliet” of the Kuiper Belt. Furthermore, Chiron’s discovery Cyllarus is conjunct her Uranus in Taurus, with discovery Saturn conjunct her Cyllarus. Once her partner passed away, she found a new identity as an astrologer with her own authority forming in an unexpected realm. At her birth, Cyllarus in Leo is on kingly Regulus, exactly opposite the Moon, which is with Hylonome, the loveliest lady Centaur.

Learning that she had Chiron in Aquarius mean that her “dream of nourishing the minds and souls of others through some kind of analytical activity was a dream she was entitled to follow” (p. 109). Leafing through its pages and continuing to discover the abundant nourishment within her seminal text, I appreciate that she was able to fulfill her stellium in Aquarius, flanking natal Chiron: Hylonome the Centauress, and Asclepius, the student of the master healer.

Quotes from: Lantero, Erminie. The Continuing Discovery of Chiron. Maine: Weiser, 1983.


[1] https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/K2BF-184/erminie-greene-1907-1992 (Although the complex genealogy of Erminie’s life is not correctly encapsulated by the summary on the front page!) Thanks to Paul Huntress for uploading the Lamarada photo and other information.

[2] Astrology, A Language of Life: Volume IV – Relationship Analysis, p. 216 (Earthwalk Astrology 2004)

[3] https://truthseekerastrology.com/post/172699470050/happy-early-birthday-to-astrologer-erminie

[4] https://mooncalendar.astro-seek.com/solar-and-lunar-eclipses-1973

[5] https://centaurs.space/2022/02/04/celebrating-the-60th-anniversary-of-the-great-american-centaur-novel/

Chariklo Teaches the Way of Peace

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.

Dan Millman Natal: 2/22/1946, 1:21 AM, Los Angeles, USA (A: personal memory)

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Way_of_the_Peaceful_Warrior

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.

Dan Millman transits of Christmas vacation (approximate date) 1966; date shown 12/27/66 10 PM

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 chart of Dan Millman meeting his mentor (approx)

*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).

New Talismanic Art Offering!

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).

See for yourself at:

https://centaurs.space/magic-pixie-dreamer/

Recent Magical Pursuits

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.

Stone offerings covered in a hazy snow, which fell during an auspicious astrological moment the day of.

Astrology of the Great American Centaur Novel

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 The Centaur’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.”

George Caldwell’s fictional transits of mid-January 1947, True Nodes, no birth time.

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.

The Aquarius Solar Eclipse Stellium of February 4, 1962

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.”

Transits to John Updike (March 18, 1932, 3:45PM, West Reading PA – AA chart) on February 4, 1962

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 The Waters of Kronos, suitably nympho-Titanic!). The Centaur 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!)

Sources:

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/john-updike/the-centaur/

https://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Updike,_John

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_1962#February_4,_1962_(Sunday)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Thomas