The collective story of the Centaurs condenses several myths that span the spectrum of life and death, nectar and poison.
We meet the Astrological Centaurs first through their namesakes in these myths. The Greek epics such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses record generations of interaction between people and the gods. Here we learn there are two bands of Centaurs: the wild, and the wise. The wild, such as Nessus, are sons of King Ixion, a villainous figure. The wise include Chiron, son of Kronos the titan, and Pholus, son of Silenus. Pholus is half-foster-brother to Dionysus himself. Intoxication is a theme of his story. Mythical cohort of the others, Nessus brings the shadow (and its redemption) to the Centaurs’ portfolio.
A client of mine once unearthed repressed trauma during a reciprocal transit of Okyrhoe to Nessus/Nessus to Okyrhoe. Another contemplated how to deal with news of abuse in her church when Nessus had stationed retrograde on her Ascendant. It amazed us both when the phone rang during our session—confirming that her donations were canceled: “the buck” stopped here, as Reinhart says about Nessus.
Nessus reaches farther than the other centaurs into Pluto’s realm, as he makes a 123-year journey around the Sun. As a Centaur guide, he brings us situations that incite maturity. This suits his myth, as he died at the hand of Hercules, after repeating the “sins of his father,” King Ixion.
Nessus guides us to redemption from wounds caused by misusing power. His myth completes the circle from wounding to healing. After the scuffle in Pholus’ cave, Nessus escaped to a distant river. We meet him during Hercules’ travels with his wife Deianira following the twelve labors. The heroic couple meets Nessus, who deviously offers to help them cross a flooded river. Carrying Deianira on his back, Nessus attempts to repeat his father’s crime. Hercules kills him with an arrow, setting off a chain of events that will destroy him, too.
Deianira is tricked by the dying Centaur, and saves his blood as a love-charm. Years later, she tries to apply this charm to her wayward husband. The poison burns Hercules, so he throws himself on a pyre to end his pain. The gods accept this self-immolation as purification. In a roundabout way, then, Hercules’ tangle with Nessus allows him to redeem his heroic destiny, becoming an immortal. (As an Olympian, he marries immortal Hebe. Sorry, Deianira!)
This unusual process of redemption might be foretold in the sky: planet Nessus was discovered at 5° Scorpio, a point opposite Chiron’s own DD of 4° Taurus. Such astrology implies how these Centaurs together offer tandem guidance along the Taurus/Scorpio polarity of natural (Taurus) healing (Centaurs) of trauma (Scorpio).
Nessus’ DD 5° Scorpio: “Sharp rocks splashed, dripping with sea spray.” The dynamic waters of purification, offered with harsh edges – much like the guidance we receive from this Centaur.
OKYRHOE: FLOWING WATERS OF PROPHECY Okyrhoe’s character is revealed in notable births and events that involve transits to her Discovery Degree (25° Pisces), reflecting an astrological function of prophecy.
Occult luminaries Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and Manly P. Hall each were born with Okyrhoe conjunct 25° Pisces. When Edgar Cayce the Sleeping Prophet gave his first reading under hypnosis, it was during his first “Okyrhoe return”, with the centaur nymph again at 25° Pisces. That same week Manly P. Hall, prodigious author of the encyclopedic Secret Teachings of All the Ages, was born, with Okyrhoe there as well.
PHOLUS: POPPING THE CORK OF AMBROSIA: Pholus is the bridge between the orbits of Saturn and Neptune. If Saturn is the boundary or vessel, and Neptune is the oceanic drink, it is fitting that Pholus, as a blend of these two, can represent the “grail” full of potency and life essence.
Allen Ginsberg might not be remembered for being a visionary, yet it was a vision of his muse William Blake that launched his poetic quest. His entire career was an attempt to express the essence of that visionary moment. His natal Ascendant at 25° Pisces marks him as an embodiment of Okyrhoe’s vision. One summer afternoon as a bohemian student in Harlem in 1948, Ginsberg relaxed on a couch after reading William Blake’s poem “The Sunflower”. Looking out the window, he heard the voice of Blake, as if “God had a human voice, with all the …gravity of a living Creator speaking to his son.”
The Centaur Progressed Chart for Ginsberg throughout all of August 1948 gives us Pholus at 13° Capricorn: “A flame talking to a poet,” conjuring biblical scenes of prophecy. Blake’s own Pholus? Also at 13° Capricorn. When we chart Centaurs, the visionary marbles roll down deep grooves in zodiacal space.
A CENTAUR STELLIUM: JIM CARREY Actor Jim Carrey is quite the centauric person. Half-man half-something, Carrey’s early comedic film roles made his malleable face famous. In recent years he’s morphed into a new kind of hero for his renunciation of Hollywood’s cult of personality. As he found himself spiritually, his priorities changed.
His transformation began when filming his Andy Kaufman biopic, Man on the Moon. The actor embodied this character to such a total degree that all sense of Jim was lost. He made everyone on set call him Andy. Did Jim master method acting, or did he channel his subject? Let’s see what kind of light the Centaurs can provide.
Jim was born with an Aquarian stellium of Jupiter and Mercury conjunct Pholus and Chariklo (2° orb). These Centaurs add something psychic to a classic signature of humor (Mercury-Jupiter). They also trine his Gemini Moon. A second visionary pair is Neptune, blended with Okyrhoe’s ‘mystic mood’, rising in Scorpio. These paint a clear picture of an oracle. With a chart that blends the slower cycles of the Centaurs with faster, personal points (Ascendant, Moon, Mercury), Jim is uniquely able to embody centauric qualities.
Andy Kaufman and Jim Carrey share a birthday, in different years. Conjunct Capricorn Suns are an ideal basis of synastry for an actor and his muse. Yet their Aquarian Mercuries are also conjunct within 1.5 degrees. Thus Kaufman’s Mercury – the mind Jim attuned to – was plugged into Jim’s Centaur stellium, too.
During the four month process of making Moon in late 1989, he experienced a key transit: Chiron crossed Jim’s Ascendant at 15° Scorpio, and with it, his Neptune-Okyrhoe conjunction. By transit, Chiron was squaring the Mercuries of both actor and muse. Chiron transforms anyone willing to ‘let go and let the gods’. And, at the same time, Chariklo (subtle body) transited his North Node, and he was able to mediumistically channel someone else’s energy.
Jim’s Centaur transits blend into a chart with Centaur Progressed Chariklo at 5° Taurus 38’, conjunct Chiron’s DD. This demonstrates the third principle of Centauric astrology, when a transit of one centaur to a natal chart occurs alongside a CP Progressed conjunction of one centaur to the DD of another.
Jim Carrey’s subsequent transformation in the public eye is the fruit of his Chiron transit. At a fashion event in 2017, like Hercules killing the Erimanthian Boar, Jim slayed the mighty bull of celebrity by telling the cameras: “I don’t believe in personalities… There is no me.”
Bridging from the space beyond Neptune, where time doesn’t exist, to Saturn’s familiar dimension, the Centaurs are here to help us make the leap. As seen in these examples, the new planetary archetypes they embody let us learn concretely from our visionary moments in the beyond: dreams, visions, and anything we might call a peak experience. Imagine: medicine administered in alignment with Chiron, meditation retreats scheduled with Chariklo, dream journeys explored under Okyrhoe, and ritual healing made along with Pholus.
NOTES & DATA:
Allen Ginsberg: June 3, 1926 at 02:00, Newark NJ. Rating A: From Memory (AstroDatabank)
Manly P Hall: March 18, 1901 at 05:00 (A: From Memory, AstroDatabank)
Edgar Cayce: March 18, 1877 (X: Birth Record); First reading: March 31, 1901 (There is a River, Sugrue, Thomas)
Nostradamus: Approx December 24, 1503 (Gregorian) (DD, Astrodatabank, via epitaph as per Starkman, Guinard.; range of Dec 21-24 = same Okyrhoe of 23 Pisces 14)
Jim Carrey: January 17, 1962 2:30 AM, Newmarket Ontario, Canada (A: Scholfield collection)
Sources: Bahr, “The Sensational Ginsberg of Howl and Kaddish” (Allen Ginsberg in Harlem, summer 1948)
THE CENTAURS’ MYTHIC ZODIAC: Mythic Chiron and Pholus connect through the story of Hercules, which enshrines a twelve-fold archetype of the Hero’s journey to redemption through ordeal. Guided by his mentor Chiron, Hercules found Pholus guarding the elixir that would reward one of his labors. Inside the centaur’s cave, Hercules taunted Pholus to open his sealed flask of wine. A scuffle ensued when the neighboring centaurs got wind of the wine. To fend off the Centaurs, Hercules shot them with his arrows laced with the Hydra’s venom. Chiron received his fateful wound, and curious Pholus accidentally poisoned himself with the same arrow, too. Thus astrological Pholus is the “small cause, big effect.” Once the champagne is popped, it’s hard to get back in the bottle. Events under Pholus’ influence quickly take on a life of their own and get out of control. Subjectively this can feel ecstatic or euphoric (Robert von Heeren’s adjective of choice for this centaur).
Planetary Pholus was the second centaur discovered (1/9/1992), clueing astronomers in that Chiron was not a singleton, but a pioneer of his own class. At the first degree of Leo, the symbol for Pholus’ Discovery Degree is “Not knowing what to say, a woman blushes.” Quite apt for a shy centaur guarding drink.
Chiron’s story culminates when he takes the place of Prometheus, who was tortured for his trickery: giving fire to his creation, humanity. Planetary Chiron was discovered at 4° Taurus, for which the Pleiadian symbol reads: “In a shadowy place in a forest an iridescent fire arises from the ground.” Through 2019, Uranus approached the place in Taurus where we found Chiron (3°50’). Did we gain electrified insight into Chiron’s purpose at the conjunction of May, 2019 and once again in Spring 2020?
If Chiron is the “wound”, then where is the medicine? Chariklo is famed as the Centaur’s wife, yet with a fine pedigree herself, she holds her own as a planet. Daughter of Apollo and assistant to Vesta in the temples of Athena, Chariklo embodies the spiritually accomplished Medicine Woman. We can relate her placements to healing, trance visions, and spiritual relationships. Chariklo’s discovery (2/14/97) degree of 7° Leo is symbolized as “A man’s astral body travels into the sky to see the stars more closely.” This astral body is what leaves during dreams and out-of-body experiences, the kinds of events for which astrological Chariklo plays a vivid role.
Okyrhoe was born to Chiron and the nymph Chariklo. They named her after the “swift flow” of the river on the banks of which their daughter took birth. She speaks truths that unsettle the gods in power. In his Metamorphoses, Ovid recounts how the girl fell into “the mystic mood of prophecy.” In such a trance she once spoke of Chiron’s future wounding, and its aftermath. For her soothsaying, Zeus transformed her into a mare so that she would be mute. One story tells us how in her equine form, Okyrhoe flew off to the stars of Pegasus. When discovered as a stellar body on September 19, 1998, Okyrhoe incarnated conjunct the alpha star of Pegasus, Markab, at 25° Pisces. The degree symbol reads “At the river, singing and purification by water.” Okyrhoe was thus found “in her myth body” of Pegasus, at the degree symbolized by the waters which give her name.
Climbing up Mount Pelion to the Chironian cave, a seeker would find two very different kinds of teachers in residence there: half-brothers Zeus (the Sagittarian) and Chiron (the Virgoan). One more likely to dispense wisdom and grace from atop his lofty throne, the other to gallop down the hillside to teach a disciple with his own hands, hooves on the ground. His name means Skillful Hand, and as master of healing with herbs, he taught the biggest names in ancient medicine (such as Asclepius). As guide of the hunt, he prepared Hercules, Achilles, and Jason for their quests. Chiron was also the foremost of astrologers.
In my recent article in the Career Astrologer, I introduced the Centaur planets Chiron, Pholus and Chariklo. We saw how their themes of healing come into play during the transits of 2020. Lets deepen our understanding of how these Centaurs guide individual lives, by delving in to notable case studies (in next week’s blogs).
When inviting them into our charts, remember that they are visitors from the distant Kuiper belt. Imagine these planetoids swooping toward our region of space with their orbital lassos that weave outer-planet energies into familiar Saturnian turf. Although the outer planets’ transpersonal influences can be difficult to grasp, Centaurs mediate between inner and outer realms. As “rainbow bridges,” these planets provide a missing link for the counseling astrologer.
Since his discovery in 1977, Chiron has worked his humble way into the astrological mainstream. Many know him as a Wounded Healer, Maverick, and Mentor. Now that Chiron has moved into Aries for the first time since discovery, we may find ourselves in a new era of working with the Centaurs.
The other members of the Centaur’s family lend their names to lesser-known planets which may be equally important. I have found that the Centaurs’ power to describe a “journey to enlightenment” is seen most clearly when dealt with as one whole family. This includes wife Chariklo (energy healer), daughter Okyrhoe (oracle), and friend Pholus (diviner). Viewed together, this crew of maverick planets can enlighten any chart.
In addition to the tools I introduce here, we can get to know our astrological Centaurs by tracking their transits to our natal planets and watching their natal cycles (such as the Chiron square). Yet, in working with the charts of hundreds of visionary and mystical experiences, I’ve found three methods that clarify the messages of these galactic oracles. Here I will share these ways of revealing a Centaur’s purpose in our charts. We will look into the stories of Carl Jung, Edgar Cayce, Allen Ginsberg, and Jim Carrey to see how, with the right tools, Centaurs alone can speak to our most profound moments.
My astrological method to understand our new galactic messengers is summarised by the use of: •Discovery Degrees: The degree on the tropical zodiac transited when astronomers first identify a new planet, especially when described by the Pleiadian degree symbols, a version of the Sabians reworked by John Sandbach. (DD) •Centauric Progression Charts: a half-life progression for half-human Centaurs. Inspired by Davison’s Relationship Charts, calculate a chart of the midpoint in time between a birth and key event. (CP) •Reciprocal transits between any of these points: e.g. Okyrhoe’s Discovery Degree (a), and someone’s Centaur Progressed Chariklo (b); a-b, b-a. (DD-CP, CP-DD)
Considering discovery degrees (DD) is especially helpful to understand Centaurs in action. Does the discovery of a new planet affect our consciousness? Is there cosmic significance to the moment we find a new astrological planet? The degree transited when a new planet is first observed becomes a sensitive degree on the zodiac. It’s a placeholder for that planet: when traversed by another, it’s as if a ‘shadow transit’ to the discovered planet occurs. Even transits prior to discovery seem to reflect the planet’s essence.
The Centaurs weave connections between ethereal Neptune and the solid ground of Saturn. Melanie Reinhart finds that they “help us integrate the high voltage frequencies of the outer planets, which without mediation, may blow apart our Saturnian reality.”
GETTING IN THE CENTAUR’S SADDLE: What does a Centaur feel like in our chart? How does it appear in our lives? We all know the feel of Saturn as we thud against its stone wall during a hard transit. It’s part of us: our bones, our time. Neptune, by contrast, is both dream and delusion, a misty lack of definition. Natal Chiron can appear first as the thorn in our side, the hurt which makes us seek help. If we find a spiritual friend to show the way, our hero’s journey takes shape. Chiron can represent each of these steps on the path.
As she weaves across the threshold between Saturn and Uranus, Chariklo connects our bodies with the beyond. She relates to our aura, the spirit around our form. This fits her planetary situation: Saturn is our skeleton, and Uranus sparkles through us as vibrating currents of kundalini. Though both Chiron and Chariklo travel near Uranus, Chariklo’s orbit – less eccentric than the others – resonates with Uranus. Chariklo thus activates our subtle bodies. She can appear as the grace of love’s healing power. At her more Saturnian side, she guides relationship boundaries, while her Uranian face is the thin veil between soul and cosmos.
Traveling beyond Saturn’s turf and crossing Neptune’s boundary to the Kuiper Belt, Pholus brings us closer to the realm of pure consciousness. We may find astrological Pholus deep within our personal caves, guarding goblets of potent brew.
As a planet, Okyrhoe’s reach is not quite as vast as that of her parents. She takes only 24 years to orbit, elliptically reaching out past Saturn in a cycle that puts her in 2:1 resonance with uncle Jupiter. Orbiting in phase with Zeus/Jupiter grants her a direct line into the mind of the Gods. She is the uncanny voice within, our own inner oracle. If heeded, Okyrhoe flows to us the best cosmic information.
Up next: The Centaurs’ Mythic Zodiac, The Astrological Centaurs, and case studies galore! Then, Nessus.
In a recent post, which I expanded in an article published in the OPA and on Astro.com, I introduced the current transits of Chiron, Pholus and Chariklo with respect to their planetary nodes. That article took a wide view, back from the 1950s into the 2040s. Here we can focus on the present year: 2020. What a year it is. What perspective can Centaurs add?
As I’ve mentioned, the Nodal Axis of both Chariklo and Pholus span the zodiac in oppositions within a degree of each other. That is, Centaurs Pholus and Chariklo happen to share opposing nodal placements.
From this we can infer an interchange of astrological function: a shared evolutionary axis points to a link in their planetary biographies, past and future. We can think of nodes as indicators of the planet’s purpose as a member of our astrological solar system. Like the Moon’s Nodes, planetary Nodes mark where a planet’s orbit crosses the ecliptic plane. Here we look at the nodes of planets heliocentrically, from the perspective of the Sun.
In early Leo/Aquarius, Chariklo’s nodes fall just beyond the Cancer/Capricorn boundary, where we find the Nodes of many planets including Saturn. Pholus, who travels between the known (Saturn) and unknown (Neptune), has nodal crossings at the end of the Cancer/Cap zodiacal axis. Chiron’s transit to this axis, in two decades hence (2041), will activate both additional Centaurs by means of their nodes.
Mark Jones paraphrases Dane Rudhyar: “Nodes refer to the complete evolutionary arc of that planet and the archetype that it represents. The planetary nodes, then, refer to the meaning of the entire orbital cycle of that planet. This can include the whole history of that archetype as it operates on an individual and collective level.”
Conjunction of one planet to another’s North Node represents a time of checking in with how the transited one is getting on with its mission. As the most Uranian of Centaurs, Chiron the maverick has nodes in late Libra/Aries, which make a cross to the other centaur nodes.
This gets touched off when our Chiron-Pholus cycle culminates in 2041, at the opposition phase of the 360 degree journey around the Sun. That future opposition aligns with the Nodes of both Pholus and Chariklo, which straddle the Capricorn-Aquarius cusp (and its opposite). At that time (in August 2041) Chiron in late Cancer will conjoin Pholus’ North Node, and Pholus will inhabit his own South Node. Three Centaurs will link together in the transits of two: Chiron will land on Chariklo’s South Node, Pholus on Chariklo’s North Node. This rare occurrence befits our first ‘conscious’ iteration of their cycle, post-discovery.
Remember that this year (one long quarter through already) began with the Saturn-Pluto-Chariklo stellium, at Pholus’ degree of aphelion. The structures have fallen in pathetic clockwork, leaving us exposed, unhoused, unprotected by the crumbled edifice of previous cycles. Chariklo hovers, whispering the trans-Uranian-new… yet now is no time for romance. “Social Distance”, utterly base-level Chariklo, can at best provide us collective healing through enforced personal space.
And Saturn enters Aquarius, the social sign. Arbiter of worldly boundaries, Saturn transits the North Node of Chariklo throughout 2020, even stationing retrograde conjunct that point. The Senex travels close all year, passing back over the South Node of Pholus, approaching the Aphelion of Pholus as it stations direct in September.
Late March was marked by the reboot energy of Mars-Saturn in the first degree of Aquarius, and something bright hovers on the horizon as Winter Solstice hosts a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in the same degree.
Pleiadian Symbol for Aquarius 1: In the desert a way station to comfort travelers.