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.