Centaur Transits for 2003

By Eric Francis

Illustration, 'Woman in Works', by Zelinda Rosellini

Although technologies exist to build an economy that is compatible with the [E]arth's ecosystems, market prices must reflect ecological costs before such an economy can be realized....Overplowing, overfishing, overgrazing, overlogging, and overpumping aquifers all contribute to economic prosperity, but they also create ecological deficit...Because the indirect environmental costs of goods and services often exceed direct costs, we need to restructure taxes to incorporate indirect costs into market costs."

-- Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute

Through much of 2003, there is a complicated and unusual aspect pattern involving many of the new planets -- planets which are hovering between 10 and 15 degrees of their signs, meaning that they are making connections, talking, exchanging energy and forming a conceptual structure (morphogenetic field) that is standing in the background of what we think is really happening. As we tap into their processes (living through the events of Mercury and Saturn transits, in particular), we can bring their qualities into the world of form. With so many in aspect, the message is that if we tap into any one of them we will have access to any of them, or all of them.

New planets represent new experiences. What we are going through on Earth is pretty new. It may have only happened one time before -- that technology's creative power over us exceeded our creative power over it. Make no mistake: even as it destroys us, technology creates us into evermore effective creators and destroyers, and we have all but lost our ability to control it. We have many metaphors for this spiral: the free trade market, the ecological crisis, the unraveling of the genome, genetic engineering, the internet -- all this new stuff. So remember: new planets, new stuff. But then, new planets equals old stuff because we carry so much of it around with us, and these planets work to conjure or invoke new processes to help us become aware of, integrate and in some instances move beyond what we discover we are carrying within. You might say that on another level the centaurs represent the long-forgotten pieces of who we are. They represent our humanity, mortal, imperfect, curious, lusty and willing to learn and change.

More than anything -- remember this, and tell your astrologer -- they represent becoming aware.

In one of her diaries, written during a recovery from a complete breakdown, the poet H.D. writes that the mythological centaurs are about feeling. Animals seem to feel more than they think. Humans tend to do the opposite. Feelings are always rendering new information, but we rarely listen. One thing we can say about centaurs is that they are at least half-animal. They represent our ultimate dualism as people: we're not entirely so. We are animals. We don't like it, we invent religion to tell us otherwise, but there you have it.

There are now six named centaur planets: Chiron, Pholus, Nessus, Asbolus, Chariklo and Hylonome. Their myths are all fascinating, and how they play out in life equally so -- these subjects will be covered in detail on Planet Waves over the next couple of months. The first, Chiron, was discovered in 1977, and was developed into a well-thought-out astrological utility within a few short years. Clearly it was time. The advent of Pluto in 1930 was seriously downplayed by astrologers, and for years Pluto was left out of mainstream planetary tables. It's interesting that the first workable books on Chiron and Pluto came out around the same time (the mid 80s), even though the discoveries were nearly half-a-century apart.

Pholus and Nessus arrived in 1992 and 1993 respectively, with the next three, Asbolus, Chariklo and Hylonome, arriving a little later. There are about three dozen centaurs in total. I have temporarily stopped using the unnamed ones regularly and have moved onto exploring Varuna, Ixion and Chaos, the first three named bodies near the orbit of Pluto. I will deal with these in a later article, though Varuna gets a section below.

Pluto has a lot to do with the centaurs and vice versa. It's as if each centaur represents another approach to the question of Pluto, but in a fully conscious way. The centaurs are about abandoned or long-buried pieces of our souls coming back to life and consciousness. We call this healing. It can be extremely annoying.

Al Morrision, one of the great astrologers of the 20th century and among the first well-known astrologers to become curious about Chiron in the '70s, called it an inconvenient benefic. It doesn't just shower gifts on us (neither do Jupiter and Venus, the supposedly convenient benefics), but rather makes it possible, through direct experiences and relationships, for us to do the work that grants us access to our inner resources. To some extent all the centaurs work this way; they all accelerate the processes which they touch; they reveal the weaknesses in the system; they help us raise awareness, or rather they mandate that we do so. Centaurs are extremely useful and not loaded upon with all the usual cultural baggage that planets like Mars and Saturn have.

One of the most useful things about them is that we don't quite know what they mean; we need to research them from scratch. This irritation is crucial to the new constellation of astrology. It's very fortunate that we don't recognize their myths or their energies too readily, since we now need astrology to teach us new patterns. Most of the centaur myths were hiding in obscurity and have been recovered by astrologers specifically for our purposes. This from-scratch quality gives astrologers who use them a chance to do some original work on deeper-than-usual levels, both scholarly and personal.

Why don't more astrologers use them? Probably because all the hot curiosity that got them into astrology in the first place has been used up, replaced by routines and dogma that are only counteracted by one fortunate condition: the planets never stop moving. No matter how dogmatic an astrologer may be, they will be confronted by the fact that certain things will happen that they've never seen before. Outer planets will change signs, rare conjunctions do occur. But the centaurs are really a hassle. Every time one is named, in theory, one's chart totally changes. God be praised.

In reading transits, they render prediction extremely difficult because we don't actually have the experience that allows us to use the past as a basis for the future. Gotta love Kali! Isn't it about time that we had a different basis for the future? So working with the centaurs compels astrologers to use their imaginations, to read old Greek translations, and to look at every chart like they've never seen it before.

A Bit on Varuna

And one last thing -- by request of Maya Dexter -- before I get into the centaur planets, Varuna is worth a mention. The trend among the minor planet trendies is shifting from the centaurs to the trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs or Kuiper objects, of which Pluto was the first discovered.) This is likely because in the past few years, four of them have been named -- the first four, actually. The first among them was Varuna, minor planet 20,000 of the minor-planet class Cubewano, discovered and named in 2000. A name provides a mythological link that most astrologers find they can't work without.

Varuna was at one time one of the most important gods of the ancient Hindu world. One thing about all these planets being discovered and named is that we're learning a whole lot about theology and mythology. Webonautics.com writes that "Varuna, the god of oceans, is shown as a fair complexioned man riding a monster fish called Makara, which has the head and legs of an antelope. He may have two or four hands and in one of his right hands he carries a noose.

"Varuna lost his importance even during the Vedic times. Of his former character of a celestial deity, he retains only the title of the regent of the Western quarter of the compass. The mythological explanation of this great conflict occurred between gods and demons and when it was over each of the gods was assigned a clearly defined sphere of influence to avoid further conflicts.

"From this time onwards Indra remained the god of atmosphere while Varuna was ousted from the guardianship of the heavens and was given the over lordship of the oceans. Here he kept watch over the various demons of the ocean. Varuna sits with his wife Varuni, on a throne of diamonds and the gods and goddesses of the different rivers, lakes and springs form his court."

Tracy Delaney, whom I sent scurrying around the network looking for information on Varuna, recently wrote to me, "There is plenty of stuff about Varuna as a higher remote power which is beyond question or understanding, and this divine power being allowed to manifest through individuals (like the Pope or a Supreme Court Judge), also emerging in charts as arrogance or dogma (with square aspects).

"Juan [Revilla] suggests an avenue of inquiry. He points out that Varuna was exactly conjunct the Sun in Cancer at the birth of Islam ('16th July 622 at Sunset in Mecca, sunset occurred at 16h05m38s'), and that this should cause self-expression to become like the conjunct planet, which 'looses its independence and becomes too absorbing, too central and excessive'. Thus the nature of Islam may give some clues about the nature of Varuna."

Interesting, then, that Varuna is back in Cancer and making an exact conjunction to the natal Sun of Mr. Bush Jr., who, to put it politely, is acting a little Islamic these days.

When the Chiron-Saturn opposition happens, Varuna will be involved; the aspect will be Saturn conjunct Varuna opposite Chiron. Dubya's Sun is right there. We are going to learn something about him, and, I dare say, about ourselves. For more details about the Bush chart in 2002, please see that article.

One thing we can reasonably say about Varuna is that he exists on a very large scale and has the feeling of being so far beyond the human realm that he might as well be a deity-alien in a different dimension. But he's not; we know his name, we can see him in our charts, and we can get a feeling for where we are bringing that quality of totally-beyond energy into manifestation in our lives.

Centaurs in Capricorn

Two of the earliest-discovered centaurs are now in Capricorn, Chiron and Nessus. We need look no further for a picture of the corporate, government and church shenanigans that are being exposed in these years. How about that pious Catholic Church? How about Enron, which was in the highly esteemed business of making money for the sake of making money? How about Arthur Anderson, Worldcom and all the rest?

How about the whole Bush administration consisting of 'former' oil executives? With all these oil wars going on? And we all know about it?

How about -- do we even care? Or are we going to pretend to love the new revolution? Did all the Bush voters (fortunately, the minority) realize they were voting for Nixon? Hello Henry Kissinger? But at least we get to see. John Poindexter? The man who resigned in disgrace during the Iran-Contra scandal? He's now the Internet Czar. And heck, Chiron in Capricorn has just begun. We have three more years of this wonder working its ways through the halls of doom and the temples of karma.

Chiron personalizes our relationship to all of these issues, which are personal in the first place. You might say that Chiron in Capricorn translates to Adrienne Rich's teaching that there is no private life that is not affected by a larger public life. Therefore, whatever happens politically happens to us personally.

Chiron in Capricorn's influence will help us see where we've been hurt and deceived by tradition, and where we've been betrayed by the social contract, and help us figure out what we can do to help ourselves get better. And it will help us see where we can make changes. As Arthur Joseph once said to me, change is a vital part of any living tradition. If a tradition does not change, it's a dead tradition. Chiron in Capricorn embodies this teaching.

For many people, Chiron in Capricorn is acting on their earliest wounds, the ones inflicted by parents and institutions such as schools and churches. Chiron's whole lesson can be summed up in one sentence: healing is a process of becoming aware. Ignoring awareness where we have called upon it can create new levels of injury. Here, we have an imperative, which is to understand the influences that have shaped us, and to exist in a conscious relationship with them.

Nessus is an energy that highlights evil deeds and shows us where such karma ends up. In other words, one evil deed leads to another, and they lead home. Nessus in Capricorn teaches us that our actions have actual consequences, particularly the ones we take on behalf of the company. I see this centaur as currently acting within the 'institution of marriage' and the 'institution of the family' (both closely involved with the institution of the church), and pointing out the extent to which our allegiance to these institutions -- which so often make us sick -- is doing just that. And any of the associations I've made with Chiron in Capricorn can apply to Nessus. We would need to study the charts of specific events to see one centaur acting with greater influence in a particular situation to make well-defined distinctions.

But in any case, If you're on the path of conscious evil, or are a partner in the same, or are working your creative energy merely to build your ego (difficult, but it happens), where Nessus is in the neighborhood, beware. And right now he's in the neighborhood of the government, large companies and family traditions. The real cost of the actions we take on behalf of these entities is our own personal misery. True, the Earth is an evolutionary school. We spend most of our time in detention.

"With Nessus," writes Denice Taylor, "it's like Mars and Pluto combine and it's always about power. I do think that there is a predator/prey dynamic connected with any unintegrated Nessus experience or relationship. If Nessus has a chemical counterpart, I think it's adrenaline. It smells and tastes sour, like fear. When Nessus is integrated, the dynamic changes to one of potency, rather than competition. Much sweeter all the way 'round. (Interesting little note - Nessus is associated with the idea of bad, or poisoned blood. Red clover is a blood purifier - a sweetener, all the way 'round.)" [Eric adds: red clover is also one of the most effective female sex organ tonics in the herbal pharmacopoeia.]

The centaurs in Capricorn are preparing us for the entry of Pluto into Capricorn in about eight years. If we do the work of the centaurs now -- and we'll know it when we're doing it -- Pluto's transit through this sign will be a lot easier. For those who flout the energy of growth and awareness that these processes offer us so generously, we can be sure there will be a long line at the gate of purgatory.

Centaurs in Scorpio

There are two centaurs in Scorpio as well. Hylonome and Pholus are creating a dynamic that is bringing what Carolyn Myss calls 'woundology' to the surface of awareness. Scorpio is about agreements, in particular, the agreement we make with existence and with one another to live. Most relationships stand as contractual agreements to hold awareness down, and to unite on the basis of where we've been harmed and are still carrying pain. This is especially true in sexual relationships, a theme near and dear to Scorpio's heart.

Scorpio is the sign of the mysteries of birth and death. Hylonome calls our attention to this natural cycle, and by pointing us to its poignancy and the grief that from our standpoint, all life is someday lost, clears the way for authentic happiness while we are alive.

The mysteries of Scorpio are (superficially) frightening, on one count, and then exploited by culturally-affirmed behavior patterns that we take on as individuals. We might say, negative superficial Scorpio is "I fear, therefore, I buy." Or "I fear, therefore, I control." Scorpio represents aspects of life that we would rather not deal with. Millions of people shave their public hair, get repeated abortions, and ignore any semblance of sexual health. We like to pretend all this sex stuff just isn't true, and that the power to create life does not come with responsibilities that we can act on consciously -- consciousness being Theme One of the centaurs. We end up becoming our own enemies in the process, and creating all kinds of pain.

We do so, as well, by taking exceedingly little personal responsibility for the process of attachment that is so vital to relationships and so easily abused. Attachment is not good or bad in itself, but it is, and it is necessary. Attachment leads to both healing and grief. The Hylonome-Pholus in Scorpio dynamic is helping us bring grief to the surface of our lives faster, and actually grow and change as a result of doing so. It's not merely about wallowing in our hurts. The centaurs are reactive. They cause reactions.

Pholus is offering a measure of curiosity about why we're in pain, and allowing rapid sequences of change once we act on that curiosity. Hylonome is offering support for our crisis of faith: we've been hurt so many times, how could we ever be happy? If we do the work of Pholus, that is, investigate and let what we learn change us, the work of Hylonome will be easier. We will learn that it's possible not to be hurt in the sense of negligence or abuse. Some hurts are avoidable.

The recent profound retrograde of Venus in Scorpio (in fall 2002) involved several conjunctions to Hylonome, suggesting the depth of this process and its accessibility on the deepest and most personal levels of our awareness. We will be taken to the depths of our feelings, so we might as well make up our hearts and do it in a meaningful way and with people we trust. The activity of the centaurs in Scorpio is not easy, but as it progresses we're going to find that it is very, very helpful toward some of our most cherished needs as humans.

Chariklo in Virgo

Next we can consider the teachings of Chariklo in Virgo. Virgo is the sign of service and healing, as well as intelligence that is rooted in the Earth (our bodies) rather than the mind (as it may exist separate from the body). Here is what Phil Sedgwick tells us about Chariklo: she "demonstrated compassion and a love of fairness and peacefulness. She appealed to her goddess with goodness, mercy and fairness as tools. The justness or equality of punishment to transgression seeks balance in her [expression]."

She is about the "Need for definition between intimacy and personal space. Seeking definition of human interaction and boundaries. Desire to help without co-dependent interference. Negative: invasive, manipulative, solicitous without intent to respond, aloof. Positive: an shoulder to cry upon, well defined relating agenda, counselor of independence vs. intimacy."

We could apply these ideas to all things Virgo, and ask how we relate them to any instance in which we are called upon to help others. Service must be an act of compassion to be meaningful. To act compassionately is to serve as a healer. Chiron has close associations with Virgo.

"For Chariklo," Denice writes, "some of the stories refer to her as Chiron's wife. Going with the idea that Chariklo works hand in hand with Chiron (sorry), gives a nice female/male energy balance. And, if Chiron represents the process of healing our separations, Chariklo brings the concept of devotion to the process. Along with integrity and freedom, I think a true healing process includes acceptance and love (maybe as antidotes for guilt and shame)."

Asbolus in Aquarius

Asbolus in Aquarius, a brand new transit that began in late 2002, will be calling our attention to the process of 'group-think'. Group think is how if everyone in the media goes along with the illusion that Bush is president, then he really is. It's a form of magik and Asbolus knows more about magik than we do. We are all victims of the media, to the extent that we believe what we're told, or to the extent we believe anything because it's what everyone else believes.

Asbolus was in Capricorn for the events of 2002 so once again we have a combination of energies to account for the extraordinary developments, from Cardinal Law to Bush Knew. Asbolus is moving fast, too, averaging at the moment one sign in one year -- faster than Chiron ever moves, and working as fast as Jupiter. So we're all getting a lot of Asbolus transits.

Here is what Phil Sedgwick has to say about Asbolus in his summary:

"A seer, he foretold of the massacre of the centaurs in the battle against the Lapiths during the wedding of Pirithous. Asbolus attempted in vain to dissuade his colleagues not to engage in the battle.

"Like Pholus, a peaceful effort extends into the implications of Asbolus. His attempts to prevent conflict and save lives reflects a somewhat noble concern for fellow Centaurs (humans). Possibly a centaur of negotiation, arbitration and conflict resolution, Asbolus deserves initial recognition as a peacemaker."

Key concepts may include "Need for self realization because of deeds done. Desire for reputation and acclaim. Negative: Reckless regard for reputation, lack of integrity, impulse driven without sense of consequence. Inability to take compliments. Positive: Impeccability in action. Known as solid and consistent. Accepting of praise with humility."

We'll keep you posted. Please keep us posted.++

Return to 2003 Horoscopes Index

Space graphic above from the Rosette Nebula in Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Sulfur.
Credit: T. A. Rector, B. Wolpa, M. Hanna.