My own path of astrology is inseparable from Chiron: since that day I fired up my first chart on Astro.com, back in 2010, I was captivated by the key-shaped glyph at the edge of the zodiac circle. And it made sense: those early days coincided with a Chiron-Neptune conjunction a few degrees shy of my Pisces ascendant. What an omen for the start of my life with the planets!
My work with astrology does align with that symbolism of Chiron-Neptune: as a healer (Chiron) in the realm of spirit (Neptune). I work with these archetypes as if they were real: Centaurs as planetary spirits, guides, and healing energies. The Centaurs are here to help: I’ve learned that we can communicate with them and receive guidance, in many ways.
I had just rented a small cabin in a Berkeley backyard, moving in under an eclipsing Full Moon, as Jupiter and Uranus conjoined at my Natal Moon (though I didn’t know that yet). I knew my Saturn Return approached, and this meant I should get serious with my “life goals,” somehow.
It was a fresh start after a blessed year and a half on work retreat at a Buddhist charity. I had given myself over to a worthy cause (during the Chiron square to my natal Chiron). In India, I worked 100 days without a day off. It was intense, but for a purpose. Reading my Astro.com daily horoscope, Rob Hand’s words were prescient as he described a feeling– my feeling –of losing your boundaries as you sacrifice to something greater. So that’s a Chiron aspect you say… It sure made astrology feel legit.
The Centaurs were up to the task of describing what I was going through; the shadow part at least. What about the light? Chiron is infamous as a sign of where we hurt. Perhaps his centauric kin can show us where it feels really good? Those months of sacred labors were some of the best in my life – maybe in any life. Could the stars catch those waves too? The events in question were so subtle, so interior. Were they even in the vocabulary book of a Valens or Kepler?
In brief, I was on a tantric pilgrimage through India, backed by a lineage of ancient siddhas and their spiritual offspring. What began in a yurt in Northern California culminated at an alpine lake in the Himalayas. Visionary experience, yogic knowledge, gnostic wisdom…. where do these appear in a chart?
When I moved out of my apartment and crossed the country in search of illumination, I did so with the two hundred dollars I inherited from my aged refugee of a dear and recently departed Grandmother. I was traveling on a wing and a prayer. What did the sagely Centaurs have to contribute to that prayer?
Centaur Pholus, holder of the hero’s prized ambrosia, trotted over to my Midheaven for the first time in my life: a great cork was about to be popped open. Precious elixir would pour through my life-stream. The Centaur Chiron’s daughter Okyrhoe, an oracle, skipped across my natal Sun: an initiation underway! By noting only these two placements we can locate a very precise kind of moment in time. Despite my outwardly rough situation, the guides were brewing up something delicious.
There are so many ways to do astrology. Maybe some progression, time lord, or dasha might show it. A pure expression of Mercury or Jupiter in just the right alignment could express these sort of things. That can feel to me like a massaged message, selectively choosing from a list of planetary attributes.
True, though: by transit (one of only several ways of noting the passing of astrologic time) an eventual Jupiter-Uranus conjunction to my natal Moon, under an Eclipse when I returned to California, marked a fitting culmination to the journey. I was at last spiritually (Jupiter) on my own (Uranus) in a way that felt right (natal Moon). Can’t beat that. But that’s the end of the story. How had it begun?
I remained near the woodsy yurt for six months, collecting what Buddhists call merit by working on an assembly line creating Tibetan sacred texts by day, and meditating by evening. That very first night, a bubble burst: a fairy godmother of the Indo-Tibetan variety visited me in a waking dream state. I felt true healing, deep in my physical cells, through the energetic body, and into my heart.
In addition to the movements of Pholus and Okyrhoe, the Centaur’s Consort, Chariklo, “spinner of grace”, was approaching a key point in my chart: the Ascendant of my Draconic chart (also a few of my planetary midpoints, including Saturn-Neptune). This transit happened twice. First, when I arrived for work under the Bodhi tree in India, and second, during a visionary moment that sealed my term with the Buddhist group.
That first transit of Chariklo to my karmic sweet spot found me cast as a fortunate emissary of the dharma printers, in a stint abroad on sacred ground. One full season into that intensive self-sacrifice, my spiritual reward was granted by another visit from the same fairy godmother. When I took a short vacation at a sacred lake (not just any lake, but the mythic home of that dakini – wise woman), the energetic cork popped. Kundalini awakened in a powerful new experience.
I know the date exactly (February 7, 2010). This day marks a Venus-Chiron-Neptune conjunction at 26° Aquarius. That degree is meaningful, in part because it sextiles my Neptune and trines my Pluto. Further, it’s the discovery degree of Neptune! This planet is the boundary of our solar system, the way-station between the transpersonal (Uranus) and spiritual realm (Pluto)… and beyond! It is Neptune’s orbit that the Centaurs weave in and out of, drawing down ethereal light to the world of Saturn’s three dimensions.
(In fact, this was Neptune’s first post-discovery return to its discovery degree (25 Aqu 53)—while conjunct Chiron! Venus lit up this pairing. It was a notable moment in time, full of blessings which I gathered by being at the right place at the right time.)
Then once more, by retrograde motion, Chariklo returned to my Draconic Asc. This time she marked a transformative Dream experience back in California. In the twilight between dreaming and waking, a blissful vision showed me the empirical reality of the Buddhist teachings. What happens after a mind leaves a body, such as in death, was revealed in what William James might have called a “conversion experience”. And with it, I could pack up my bags and move to that cabin, where I’d study astrology and try to live up to Saturn’s hope for a stable life.
In the chart of this Dream, a culmination of one quest, the Centaurs make analysis simple. They are very specific signifiers, and do precise things in this chart. These four Centaur planets are each found near key points. Chiron the guide approaches my Ascendant, Okyrhoe the oracle transits my Pluto, Chariklo the healer is at my Draconic Ascendant, and Pholus the catalyst is once again at my Midheaven.
Empowered by this case study, I turned my zodiacal buddies loose to explore the lives of my teachers and dozens of inspiring figures in world history. Together the results comprise an astrology of ecstasy.