Chiron-Pholus: The Sandpaper of Life

Welcome to Scorpio Season! The Sun today enters a new sign and shines a positive light on Pholus, recently into Capricorn. For all our talk, the Sun’s entry into a new sign is only a ‘background radiation’ for the month. The distinct patterns of time come into focus through a look at planetary aspects.

Earlier this year, the cup-bearing Centaur of divine ambrosia, Pholus, dipped into Capricorn, only to travel again in Sagittary for many moons. This was a reprise of his time in 2016-7 on his centaury ‘home turf’. Through much of 2016- and 2017 Pholus skirted the edges of the Galactic Center, at Sagittarius 27: “Sanding and sanding a sculptor is carefully modulating and refining a curve.” (Pleiadian Degree Symbols) The symbol feels right for a centaur like Pholus: cosmic sandpaper grinds down all the karmic rough spots: it hurts, yet we become smoother for having lived through it. What curves has life been artfully, if gratingly, modulating for you?

Centaur Pholos

Chiron and Pholus have squared, first from mutables (Pisces/Sagittarius), and now cardinal signs (Aries/Capricorn). Fortunately these two are friends, vs. being antagonistic. They have similar aims: of helping us reach spiritual healing. Visionary keywords for Chiron-Pholus together, which I derived from their mutual presence in the discovery chart of each, are Celebration of Life and Renewal. So however it feels in the process, the purpose of their lessons are joyful.

Centaurs are eccentric: they weave weird webs for our world. Their sense of time is not steady, like our even-keel around the solar zodiac in twelve segments. From our point of view (geocentric), the Centaurs make paths that are both elliptical and off-center around the Sun. This makes their travels through the signs of the zodiac hard to keep track of. It’s in the ephemeris, but it’s hard to discuss in a straight line. Especially when we are looking at the relationship of two centaurs, like Pholus with Chiron.

A Little Book of Coincidence in the Solar System (Wooden Books) includes a surprise end-plate illustration of what I’m talking about, here: you can see the beautiful symmetry between say, Saturn and the outer planets, compared to say Chiron as it blends with either planet.

(John Martineau)

As it happens, the 20th and 21st Centuries are host to especially weird centaur cycles. If we are trying to figure out the current Chiron-Pholus cycle (of healing ancestral karma), this is important. Where does the cycle (that now reaches an opening square) begin? And its history? Pedigree of a cycle: Checking out Robert van Heeren’s deep research is an ideal start. He’s plotted the paths of each centaur to the other – kentauren.info for the win. What a funny plot the Chiron-Pholus is:

via kentauren.info

We can see that historically, there have been many Chiron-Pholus squares (see all the curves running through the 90° line.) Most of those are in the 17th and 18th centuries on this 450-year plot. Actually, check out the 180° line at top — so many years have hits there: these two centaurs spend a lot of time at odds, at opposite zodiacal poles.

So, in a broad stroke we can see that much of our ‘Medieval’ and early modern history is colored by the Chiron-Pholus opposition. More recently, they also opposed in the 19th and 20th centuries several times.

In a 500 year period they can reach opposition about a dozen times, while actually conjoining only half as many times. The conjunction then, marks a mini-epoch in human history. For all the weirdness, their total cycle is of a (near-) regular 100 years: they meet every century, give or take a couple years, then do the whirly-gig dance of healing from then out.

But, to return to the point: check out this 100 year chunk, from mid 20th to mid 21st c. There was the conjunction of 1956 (in Aquarius), and then in the 1990s there was a close-but-no-centaur conjunction, before stretching way up to an opposition in a short few decades:

via kentauren.info
  • 1939 Opposition, mid-Cancer/Capricorn
  • 1956 conjunction in Aquarius, in the lead up to which they span 180 degrees in a few years;
  • 1956-2019 waxing into the slower opening square we find ourselves in today.

In the 2040s, Pholus will live out his stay in Capricorn that we are now entering. This exit won’t happen without lots of action, though, in the form of reaching two phases in their cycle:
Chiron and Pholus wax to their next opposition by 2041, in the last degrees of the Cancer/Capricorn axis (Aug 2041). Then, by late Aug 2048, Pholus and Chiron reach the waning square of this cycle.

Our present Chiron-Pholus cycle concludes in 2060, at the end of Aquarius. So this centauric “Age of Aquarius” begins and ends in the sign of the Water Bearer, which is a worthy symbol of Pholus, holder of visionary ambrosia. The Centaur’s function in both myth and reality is to safeguard what is most potent and valuable for when the time comes to pop the cork on that emergency bottle and drink deep from life’s mysteries. Times of sudden initiation, breakthrough, and spiritual crisis.

Square aspects, especially in the waxing phase that we find ourselves in, are never easy. Often the best solace we can take is seeing how the part fits into the whole picture. It is notable how the cycle begins in the ’50s, when the “Aquarian Generation” of Boomers took birth. We have inherited their crises, as all generations do from the prior one. This waxing square is the deep work of ancestral healing – even healing those ‘ancestors’ who still live. We heal the part of them that is in us: in our genes, habits, thought patterns. It’s the “Harmony is Strife” phase of the cycle, as warned by Heraclitus.

Pholus may have ‘died’ in Chiron’s cave, at the sharp end of Herakles’ arrow, but I can assure you that the wisdom-being inspiring that tale lives today, in his aquarian realm. Likewise, Chiron the Master Teacher and Healer exists in a crystalline presence as close to you today as any other dream-mentor. If that sounds inspiring to you, please just reach out to learn more.

This year (2019-2020) is conditioned by two major Centaur aspects: the Chiron-Pholus square, and Chariklo’s conjunction with Saturn-Pluto. Saturn has recently been dredged by a long dalliance with the South Lunar Node. Karma karma karma.

For the year ahead: first in late 2019 we experience a final Chiron-Pholus square, then the Saturn-Pluto conjunction of Jan 12, 2020. This is actually an exquisite realignment stellium of Pluto-Saturn-Ceres-Sun-Chariklo-Mercury, all within a day. My next article will focus on this grand astrological occurrence, which may be kinder than the rumor-mills have led us to believe…

If you would like to see how these Centaurs are playing out in your journeys through life, please contact me for an astrology reading and/or centaur energy healing attunement.

The Astrology of Ecstasy, Pt. 2

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!

Tumburu, chief of the Indian celestials called Gandharvas.

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 with Herakles

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?

The Wisdom Dakini Mandarava

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.

The Astrology of Ecstasy

Readers of this blog often ask for ‘more’ on Chariklo and Okyrhoe, the kin of centaur Chiron. I point them to this or that article or bit of research, but nothing that integrates the whole centaur story. With this story of my personal journey with the Centaurs, I hope to remedy the association of Centaurs with suffering. Here is an astrology of ecstasy: one that explains how the most excellent things are told by the Centaurs, showing how transcendent moments come about in a person’s life.

When I learned that the workings of astrology could time the most unexpected happenings in my life, I started to pay attention to the cosmic art. When I realized it was the Centaurs (Chiron and his family) that were most immediate and specific in their machinations around my natal chart, I got hooked. Now, a quarter Saturn cycle has passed since I first learned the names of Chiron, Chariklo and Okyrhoe. The Centaur family and I walk hand in hand on earth, and across the zodiac.

Since that time of life-changing spiritual retreats and inspirations which took place under direct transits of these three small planets (along with their friend Pholus), I’ve become more certain of their role in human experience. By examining many of the most notable epiphanies, visions, and discoveries in recent history, I’ve seen just how active the centaurs are throughout these cases. This shows in simple astrological ways: the conjunction, mostly, to clear signifiers in the natal charts of people undergoing life-changing events.

So I started to write a book, based on the famed mystics of our times including dozens of Swamis, Lamas, Marian visionaries, physicists, channelers etc. A couple years later, I began to meet psychic after psychic, each one telling a consistent message: the Centaurs were trying to work with me, for people living now. Together we could do something great for the planet.

My own spiritual teachers frown on any kind of innovation on the well-trod path of the masters. Yet time and again I was shown I had to drop my resistance and let the good things roll through me. Dreams led to writings, sudden blisses led to unfolding meditation practices, and Full Moons brought circles of close star friends together to feel though what the Centaurs were showing me.

Best of all, these astrological healing groups that I initiated in Asheville, NC have included people who are even more receptive than I am to what the Centaurs are doing. I could see right away how deeply these processes led participants to insight and healing. Rather than trying to ‘convert’ anyone, I was being shown the light that sought to shine through us.

On the Discovery & Pre-covery of the Outer Planets

The three outer planets of our solar system were discovered. That is, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were not basic facts of night-time existence observable by humans since the dawn of time. Their discoveries marked crucial moments in astrological time. When looked at side by side, these events are linked together in a meaningful weave: a story told by the planets as they took birth into our awareness. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, as well as newcomer Chiron, each function as part of our Solar system’s wider aura of information. Together they step down and transmit cosmic wavelengths of starlight from the ethers at the edge of our orbital egg to the intra-Saturnian layer of reality we call 3D.

Let’s turn to the fascinating synastry the planets have with themselves: through their discovery charts, which reveal what Mike Harding calls the zodiac’s “infinite synastry with creation.”

By now, the historical record shows that it was Galileo who first sighted Neptune, as early as 1612. He mistook the distant giant for a star (conjunct Jupiter in his telescope). In 1795, French astronomer Joseph J. Lalande also pre-discovered (May 10) what would be Neptune. This fact itself was discovered by the team of researchers who collaborated to find Neptune in 1846. In between these precoveries, Uranus was found by Herschel.

Astronomical Synastry in brief: 26° Aquarius

  • Precovery Neptune-2 had Pluto near where Neptune was later found, conjunct Saturn in late Aquarius.
  • At the same degree of the Saturn-Neptune synod of 1846, Chiron lay in waiting at Pluto’s precovery in 1909.
  • There, too, was Chiron’s unknown daughter Okyrhoe (conjunct Mom’s friend Pallas Athena), when Herschel found Uranus in 1781.

When Pluto was discovered in 1930, Chiron was conjunct the North Lunar Node. When Chiron was discovered in 1977, Pluto was conjunct the North Lunar Node.

At Pluto’s earliest precovery in 1909, Neptune transited exactly 18° Cancer 19′ (8/21/09, photographed by Edward Barnard at Yerkes Observatory). When Pluto was actual-pre-discovered, by means of the photographic plates taken by Clyde Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory prior to his ‘discovery’ of the results (1/22/30), Pluto inhabited 18° Cancer 15′. Thus Neptune presaged its outer planet brother exactly.

Then, and maybe less significantly, trans-Neptunian object Borasisi was discovered at the same magic degree of 26° Aquarius in 1999. It’s not just a random space rock though: Borasisi shows up big time in a Neptunian-Uranian way. It’s the planet of ‘mad science’ or tech without a conscience.

A Pleiadian Interlude

 Neptune’s pre-discovery pair of future Piscean co-rulers Jupiter and Neptune (at 26.5 Virgo) coincided with one of the two degrees that the Pleiadian Degree Symbols* depict with a ‘tea ceremony’. At Neptune’s actual discovery in 1846, it was adjacent to the next of those degrees of ceremony. In 1612, at Galileo’s viewing, at 27° Virgo Neptune-Jupiter announce “A famous geisha performing the tea ceremony.” Here is a clear resonance with its future discovery at 26° Aquarius, adjacent to the symbol of 27°: “During a tea ceremony a man briskly mixing tea with a whisk.” I view Neptune’s birth degree with some orb due to the triple conjunction that year which formed with Saturn across both degrees.

Neptune in both its pre- and actual discovery is symbolized by a tea ceremony: the ritualized, conscious merger of the physical with the fluid. This imagery is appropriate for Neptune in Aquarius, a true bearer of water. The Pleiadian symbols for these two Aquarian degrees are remarkably evocative of the relationship between Saturn and Neptune, which govern ‘containers’ and ‘fluids’, respectively. Next to the “tea ceremony” degree lies Aquarius 26°: “A scientist measuring the mineral levels in a sample of water.”

These symbols appear to serve as ideal imagery for Neptune’s watery world as seen from within the boundary of our system: a Saturnian container for Neptunian spirit. Not only are both images of a liquid contained (Saturn-Neptune), but the acts of measuring minerals and brewing tea each invoke the relationship between solute (Saturn) and solvent (Neptune). This chemistry is the inevitable result of the Saturn-Neptune process: absorption and dissolution. 

*Pleiadian Degree Symbols are an updated series of Sabian Symbols by John Sandbach

The Saturn-Chiron Aspect of 2018

{Blog originally posted on Hominy Creek Horoscopy, 8/31/2018}

A long-term influence of the past year has been the Saturn-Chiron square, the “brick wall of reality” (as Steven Forrest calls Saturn) gnashing against our deepest insecurities. Not always fun! This aspect is moving on into the mists of memory after next week’s station of Saturn direct.
For the brave, this week can be the final reckoning with Saturn’s taciturn teachings. If we can look him square in the face as he shows us our limitations, father Saturn and son Chiron (the ‘inconvenient benefic’ who seeks to help us through hurtful, growing situations) can help us make leaps and bounds in our evolution (AKA maturity, growth process) this week.
Recently I woke from a dream that showed me how the essence of the Saturn-Chiron square is to see how the limitations of our parental & father figures are brought into our own patterning as designs for learning, the karma we chose to operationalize in our birth.
Thus it is not for the faint of heart, but these are the big ones, the ones that are painful to look at, the things we hate most in our inherited patterning that we have unconsciously absorbed.
This period has been a reset opportunity, a time to observe objectively for those able to remain still and centered enough to see self with neutrality.
If you would like help and counseling for this final Saturn-Chiron cardinal square, please let me know!
Readings of your natal situation in regards to these planets can be illuminating and healing, helping to release stuck patterns (i.e. wounds) and move into new ways of aware selfhood.