Chiron and the Centaurs

Sue Tompkins and Melanie Reinhart Discovery and Astronomy: Chiron was discovered by Charles T. Kowal on November 1st 1977 (1) at about 10am in Pasadena. When discovered it didn't fit into existing categories of celestial objects and for this reason has been re-classified several times having been defined variously as an asteroid, a comet, and a 'planetoid'. Indeed, it still holds 'dual classification' as comet 95P and Minor Planet 2060. Most of the time it is positioned between Saturn and Uranus but as a body that crosses the orbits of other bodies, it can at times be closer in than Saturn, and at others, further out than Uranus. It has a cometary tail which can reach 300,000km in length and which appears to switch on and off - at times the tail can be seen, at others not. Once Chiron was discovered, its appearance was noted on photographic plates dating back as far as the late 1800s. It had been there all along, but not been noticed. Likewise, in the horoscope, Chiron symbolises that which is 'hidden' by virtue of being so obvious we don't actually see it. Very small, only 180km in diameter, Chiron can also describe those things that, being so small, may seem insignificant, but in actuality are powerful. In keeping with it's continual re-classification as a celestial body, Chiron's meaning in the horoscope resists categorisation and defies description. The Kuiper Belt: The year 1992 saw the discovery of the Kuiper Belt, a large zone of matter surrounding the Solar System, comprising possibly billions of small celestial objects currently being discovered and classified. Named after the Dutch astronomer Gerald Kuiper (1905-1973) who predicted its existence, the Kuiper Belt has yielded several new astronomical categories including the 'Centaurs'. Some of the larger Kuiper belt objects (KBO's) or trans-Neptunians such as Quaoar, Sedna, Ixion and Xena may prove to be of more than passing astrological interest but so far, it is the Centaurs that have particularly caught the attention of astrologers'. More than twenty have been discovered, although only about twelve have been named.(2) Centaurs are 'born' when objects are drawn in to the Solar System from the icy wastes of space in the region around Pluto, pulled in by the gravitational field of Neptune. In Greek mythology, the Centaurs were a tribe of unruly creatures who were half horse, half human; only a few have names and an individual story line. Similarly, while there may be countless Centaurs awaiting discovery in the depths of the Kuiper Belt, only a few have been named, thus demonstrating a neat parallel with the mythology. Chiron will probably remain the most well known, the 'chief centaur' just as Ceres is the 'queen of the asteroids'(3) In mythology, it is mainly Chiron, Pholus and Nessus who have a substantial story line, and so far these are the three Centaurs proving to be the most useful in astrological terms. Astrologers and astronomers co-operated in the naming process for several of the Centaurs and this is the first time in recorded history that this divide has been bridged. This rapprochement reflects Centaur themes: the bringing together of the scientific and the intuitive, the rational and inspirational, just as the half-horse, half-human image of the centaur brings together disparate opposites, and challenges us to integrate that which seems alien(4). Orbital features: The Centaurs then, are Minor Planets, which have some distinguishing features. They cross over the orbital paths of one or more other bodies between Jupiter and Pluto, and have very elliptical orbits.

9 hours. When she saw him. to some extent.899AU. The Centaurs seem to preside over rites of passage and processes of purification that accompany spiritual development. Because both parents were in their horse form when he was conceived. half horse and half human. In this sense Chiron bridges the realms of Uranus (radical change. Chiron emerged as a centaur. Its period of axial rotation is 5. belief.453 AU. They have been discovered during a period of time when the true extent of the toxic devastation of the environment is coming to light. Neptune and especially Pluto.potentially changes of consciousness. Their discovery may enable consciousness and awareness to be brought into areas of the soul previously inaccessible except perhaps to hermits. chemical waste and pollutants.the inability to accept things as they are. By weaving both impulses into a higher synthesis. Chiron is accidentally hit by an arrow which had been dipped in the poisonous blood of the Hydra and the theme of poisoning is an interesting one around Chiron and the Centaurs.as well as technological changes . mystics and shamans and others dedicated to the inner journey. more uniquely personal than either planet. behaviour and life-style. as they whiz round the narrower part of the ellipse while taking much longer to transit the signs on the long sides inbetween these points. bite sized version of that planet. Commitment to the healing of self. For example.the mother of a monster. and formerly the only 'orbit-crossing' planet. instead to react in a rejecting and negative way. We are daily flooded with toxic material . Nuclear waste. Uranus. which is in fact the largest inhabitant of the Kuiper Disk. Chiron's mean distance from the Sun is 13. Philyra was so horrified that she prayed to be turned into anything other than what she was . In the Greek myth. revolution and the overturning of old collective structures) and Saturn (lord of manifestation and preserver of existing forms). The . and Nessus 124 years. Certainly. Mythology: Chiron is often associated with the archetypal theme of the Wounded Healer. Thus Chiron spends about 8 years in Pisces and Aries and only about 2 in Virgo and Libra. Chiron's mother Philyra demonstrates the primary state of mind that creates our suffering . in the dental materials most of us have in our mouths. The Pluto Connection: Chiron may have a role in enabling us to integrate the powerful experiences signified by the outer planets. be interpreted similarly to a kind of smaller. and its orbital inclination to the ecliptic is a steep 7 degrees. Chiron's process may help us individuate beyond the various pressures of the collective to which we are all subject. in the air we breathe. while at aphelion it is 18. Pholus about 90 years.in our water. agent or escapee of Pluto and can.73 AU(5).This means that they will seem to speed through some signs. Symbolism of discovery: Chiron's discovery at this pivotal time in our history reflects a process of innovation and change by 'quantum leap' . To complete one complete orbit Chiron takes about 50 years. These elliptical orbits will mean a big difference in the distance from the Sun at different parts of the orbit. astrologically. Chiron was abandoned and then rescued by a shepherd who took him to the Sun god Apollo. it is the rings of Saturn that symbolically protects the immune system and Chiron penetrating through Saturn's orbit may be a co-significator for some of the diseases of immune deficiency that have proliferated over the last few decades. He was the son of Kronos or Chronus (Saturn) and a sea-nymph called Philyra. it seems to act as an emissary. industrial accidents and toxic spills of one kind or another are very often in the news. At perihelion it is 8. others and our environment is the price this minor planet seems to be asking us to pay. Arguably.

The Campaign for equal rights for people with disabilities was at a height in 1977 in the US. In their elliptical orbits. Because Chiron was a demi-god. Chiron can signify the deaths of significant others in our lives. in that Chiron is taken to Apollo. a potent point which often signifies the birth of something. Thus both Chiron and Prometheus were released from their suffering. Whereas we can associate Uranus with rebellion and revolution and perhaps the awakening of rebellious feelings in others. Chiron. Chiron and the Centaurs appear to be tending inwards to the Sun like Chiron taken to Apollo. music and prophecy and other skills. In this respect. one of his students. as the wound was poisoned. we may feel different. who was in power from 1933 to his death in 1945 was totally paralysed from the waist down (due either to polio or Guillain-Barre syndrome which he . She points out that the wheelchair disability symbol was adopted in 1968 when Chiron was at 0 degrees of Aries. Chiron and Disability: The American astrologer Kim Gallagher Rogers has noted how similar the glyph for Chiron is to the symbol for wheelchair access(6). This detail also reminds us that our suffering and our compulsions need to be brought into the light of compassionate awareness. In the same way that the whole subject of death was largely a matter of denial in the West until the 1970's. he could not die. Chiron was accidently wounded by Hercules and Chiron often seems to be at work when people get caught up in some kind of larger crossfire. living Wills. death and transition: Matters pertaining to death in the horoscope are of course signified by Saturn. Chiron was finally able to die and was immortalised in the constellation of Centaurus. It is often active at times of illness too. which flanks the Southern Cross. assisted suicide. never knew that President Roosevelt. although there will always also be other indicators pointing the same way. the 8th house and Scorpio but Chiron undoubtedly joins this team of significators. trying unsuccessfully to heal himself. Chiron in astrology often represents that which we can do for others. not understood and outside of life in some way. Hercules. accidentally wounded him. For instance. After existing in agony for a long time. whose role seems to come under the umbrella of the conscious acceptance of death. for some reason. pre-emptied by Edward Roberts who was the first person with a severe disability to be a student living on campus.by full empathy and acceptance of it and/or empathy with the suffering of another. Pluto. Chiron and Exile: In keeping with the mythology. it is often prominent in the charts of major disasters.astronomy is reflected in the mythology. when we may be forced to face the fact that we are mortal. In the episode which earned Chiron the title of "Wounded Healer". especially when in opposition to Saturn. in common with Pluto. Themes like voluntary euthanasia. and the rights of the dying seem to be specifically symbolised by Chiron. Chiron changed places with Prometheus. but neither could he heal himself. with Chiron the experience is more that of sitting outside the herd. Where we find Chiron in the horoscope. This is a powerful description of the process whereby our suffering is resolved . Chiron seems to operate like a weak version of Uranus. but we cannot do for ourselves. . certainly seems to be a co-significator of at least some forms of disability and it's discovery 'coincided' with the time when disability was finally becoming something that could start be acknowledged and discussed. for Apollo was the god of healing. a theme of 'exile' is often felt around Chiron. Chiron. In the mythology. The vast majority of the American public for instance. Such acceptance can play an important part in the process of healing. By transit. so were all matters pertaining to disability. who was chained to a rock as a punishment for tricking Zeus (Jupiter). and fostered by the Sun god.

The key may be in the word 'recorded' in line with Chiron's tendency towards retracing over something. Chiron retraces all the aspects by transit that occurred in the formative years of our life. bear and learn to accept. His mastery of warfare (teaching others how to kill) is reminiscent of assisted suicide. Chiropractice. ruler of his chart in the 6th house exactly square Pluto is a potent signature of his disability but Chiron falling in the 8th house. its cycle is irregular and can only be tracked through the use of an ephemeris. another wound to grin. instead they are passed down through the generations.contracted in 1921). To this day. keyhole surgery) or hand/eye co-coordination. Rites of Passage . It is best not to try and 'interpret' Chiron as one might a traditional planet. depending on the sign in which it is found. Since the discovery of Chiron. by house. Chiron. diseases are seldom eradicated. In his own horoscope(7). For example.g. Studying Chiron in your horoscope: Do not expect that you can equate Chiron with healing/suffering or any other themes in the way that you can 'equate' Mercury with communication issues. and this age is an important threshold crossing for both men and women. you cannot get the station to hear the music playing! . Rather wait. recorded music. with a paralysed lower body. For a few years after its return. listen. describes the fact that. Mercury. Along with being a significator of wounds in the psychological or spiritual sense. This will allow the contemplative space for the obvious to reveal itself. as well as a huge increase in the use of alternative therapies. Alongside Pluto. hunting and music too. In mythological terms. Chiron sometimes literally describes inherited physical weaknesses. his disability was a secret. in terms of the general public at any rate. Chiromancy (palmistry) all share with Chiron the Greek root 'cheir' meaning hand. if you are not tuned to the right frequency. it returns to its natal place regularly in approximately 50 years. we might also think of word handicap. and very likely life will provide experiences that open them up. especially if the individual is coy about the fact. Chiron's first square to its own natal position may occur anytime from about age 5 to age 23. medicine and music: Eve Jackson(8) has noted that Chiropody. even though they may manifest themselves in different forms. appearing like a new head on the body of the Hydra. keeping a questioning and open mind. Chiron taught not only healing but warfare. sense and feel. Presumably. a client with Sun tightly conjunct Chiron in Sagittarius in her 7th house had a husband (Sun and 7th house) who suffered from multiple sclerosis. most pictures of him omit his wheelchair. look. which will connect with Chiron's symbolism. However. Indeed. For example. he 'suffered in silence'. Using the analogy of a radio. there have been significant advances in orthodox medical/surgical practises which require skill with hands (e. as it helps us move beyond what is happening in the present by understanding the elements of past experience which are being recapitulated. Chiron sometimes certainly does appear to be a significator of disabilities that warrant the use of wheelchairs or might require one in the future. but Chiron may also be a significator of music or at least. for example.the Chiron Return: Because Chiron's orbit is so elliptical. Understanding this process can make a big difference. according to the homeopathic world view. In the context of Chiron. The sign Sagittarius and it's rulership over the hip area of the body is undoubtedly relevant here too. sign and aspect. Thus we have the opportunity to revisit and bring healing to those areas. to some extent he would have been disabled sexually too.

whose rites were often characterised by drunkenness and chaos. Chiron can also depict a brilliance. The jar of Pholus was not supposed to be opened for four generations. and situations. and so the astrological Pholus often highlights the releasing of ancestral processes. Some 'classic' Chiron themes In some horoscopes. sweat and strain to be free of situations which burn with relentless continuity. We can psychoanalyse our bonds. It has become dissociated because of trauma or suffering. it may mean stopping trying to figure things out and fix them. Sometimes there are specific things to do. but only when such endeavours are in harmony with . and its process seems to be one where a small event sets off a chain reaction. in terms of consequences.The best way to understand Chiron in your horoscope is to track its transits over time. Then there are those who are living so close to the archetype that they cannot see it! There can be an obvious 'unhealable wound' depicted by Chiron's placement. it could be said that Chiron symbolises part of us that has been split off. Nessus processes really do seem to bring to an end the unfathomable ties that bind us to people.the buck stops here. however. a freshness. The way to deal with Pholus is to take only essential actions until the floods subside and things settle down. In some way. creating a new emphasis or serving to explain something really prominent about a person not otherwise reflected in the chart. or putting flowers on a grave. a maverick or wanderer. But often it is simply to inwardly acknowledge the suffering of those who went before us. Psychologically. Very often this revolves around accepting the unacceptable. being taken advantage of. and being oppressed. Dionysus was the god of ecstasy. out of fear. The 3rd Centaur to be discovered is one that seems to address issues to do with the abuse of power. and to recognise the tragedy of it. where we resist being tied down. places. the unfair. People who cannot relate to Chiron fall into one of two categories: there are those who are so busy blocking out the deeper dimensions of their soul that they cannot resonate with Chiron. Nessus . and sometimes they culminated in violence. Pholus was the keeper of the sacred jar of wine of Dionysus. where suddenly things click into place. seeks to return. there is potential resolution and release. or simply through a lack of understanding or language to process an experience. It can also be like 'blind spot' where something is obvious to everyone but ourselves. whether these are known or unknown to us. particularly the main 'hard' aspects: conjunction. bearing witness to the past can be important as we are called upon to clarify our own ancestral lineage. something which stands out and defines a person. the incomprehensible. Pholus . There is a wildness. Studying it often makes for an 'aha' effect. do 'tie cutting exercises'. a certain instability where we can go to extremes. either inwardly or externally. a volatility of energy. square and opposition.the lid comes off Pholus was discovered in 1992 . and it too has ancestral implications. Transits act like the classic shamanic process of 'soul retrieval' where that which has been outcast. This is particularly relevant for people raised in a culture where they are in a minority group. like forgiveness work. putting Chiron in will have the effect of highlighting a pattern. It can show where we behave or feel like an outsider. where the constraints of society weigh heavily. Just as in the myth. but instead to simply allow ourselves to be with the experience. In the Greek mythology. It seems that Nessus brings opportunities to understand and release deep patterns of helplessness. Similarly Pholus events often involve things getting out of control. a situation that we cannot escape from although we may try to and which provides grist to the mill of our 'soul-work' for many years.

A Democrat. Chiron Verlag. in Hyde Park. and here are some of her thoughts. To escape the pain Heracles threw himself onto a funeral pyre. On December 30th. 9.08am UT. www.1977: 10.the deeper timing of the soul will they result in deep release. co-authored with Dieter Koch '.robertvonheeren. charitable impulse of that conjunction. Chiron and the Centaurs' by Melanie Reinhart. As he lay dying. (See also the Chiron-Pluto-Cycle-diagrams with a list of exact Chiron-Pluto-conjunctions since 1600 A. (7) President Franklin D. describing the strenuous perhaps brilliant efforts he made during the Great Depression to make viable economic reforms and alleviate the suffering of the unemployed. (German language only). Endnotes (1) Date of photographic plate showing Chiron: 18.com/chiron (5) One AU (astronomical unit) = 150 million kilometres/93 million miles = mean distance from the Earth to the Sun.11. the only President to serve for more than two. This sometimes happens through an intensification of suffering. (6) Personal communication at the Lucerne conference in 1993. Pasadena.). Roosevelt was born on 30 January 1882 8. And when they do. finish and transcend to another level. His Aquarian planets go some way to explaining his humanitarian bent but the Chiron in Taurus in the 8th conjunct Jupiter and Neptune augments the liberal.edu/iau/lists/Centaurs. CPA Press 1996/2000 for full exploration of their symbolism. Nessus gave Deianira a potion containing his heart's blood and semen.expreso. and the opening of a deeper wisdom. "Pholus . Palomar 33N19/116W53 Discovery date: 1. the mixture.10 1977. . saying that the potion would ensure Heracles faithfulness to her. Heracles saw the rape about to happen and shot Nessus. Melanie Reinhart has been contemplating this.45pm LMT.html (updated daily).zanestein.0. Nessus activations correspond with times when things really do end. (3) This parallel was suggested by Robert von Heeren in his book.00am PST. impregnated with his toxic blood was poisonous and it burned Heracles terribly. Appalled by what had happened. www. (2) See the website http://cfa-www. the healing is unmistakeable. www. When she became unsure of Heracles fidelity she smeared the potion on his shirt but Nessus had lied.co. nettle rash and allergy for instance. (4) For further details see the following websites: .cr/centaurs . The end of falsely hopeful innocence is signalled by Nessus transits. 1999. All rights reserved. (8) York Conference 1983 [i] See 'Saturn. he held office for four terms. Germany.de . 34N8/118W8.D. 1995.harvard. This accords neatly with the Greek myth in which Nessus attempted to abduct and take advantage of Heracles wife. All website contents copyright © Melanie Reinhart 1989-2007. Deianira committed suicide. Chiron will be conjunct Pluto at 11°23' Sagittarius. when release occurs and when the turning point is reached.Wandler zwischen Saturn und Neptun". making this aspect the main astrological signature of the Millenium. Tubingen. New York. 41N47 73W56 according to the astrological program Kepler 7. Deianira. Nessus sometimes correlates with itching and burning skin as occurs in instances of eczema.

light and healing by impinging on our own lives. the small orbit-crossing bodies that move between Saturn and Pluto. Suffice it to say that if Pluto had been discovered more recently. a storm of outrage followed which quashed the proposal. the largest of such in the Kuiper Disk. we all know what it feels like to be emotionally frozen. further trauma and feelings of betrayal as the truth emerges. the point of integration and individual consciousness. enters the sign of Sagittarius. reparation.. THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL If we consider Pluto to be connected with taboos.CHIRON RE-CLASSIFIED Since the recent discovery of the Centaurs. and which also (symbolically through the Centaurs) needs recognition and release for healing to occur. for his own healing. 1941. The last decade has seen the opening of many such documents. accompanied by a herd of newly discovered Centaurs. the dense belt of matter called the Kuiper Disk which surrounds the Solar System. There have been many heart-rending stories in the media of individuals trying to fill in the biographical blanks in their own lives. just as this controversy was peaking! It’s as if he was saying. political and ancestral issues. like a black hole. and a corresponding shift in collective opinion. All these bodies move inward from the cold dark reaches of outer space. and asks us to reconsider his meaning! Pluto himself is an orbit-crosser. who may thus be seen as presiding over the Kuiper Disk.. themes which are ‘bigger than us’. In other words. Pluto’s purifying activity in the Scorpio terrain is easily located . emissary and escapee of the Underworld. Pluto crossed to the inner side of Neptune’s orbital path in February 1979. and thus we are at the end of a cycle that began during World War II. Chiron has been again re-classified. and which seek recognition.. Shocking discoveries have led to outrage. on both an individual and collective scale. the heart-centre of the Solar System. as Lord of Transformation. there are also extraordinary stories of healing.A. with powerful repercussions for many individuals. What a delicious piece of ‘live astrology’. "I’m not who you think I am". forgiveness and peace-making with the past. Many countries have a 50 year secrecy rule on classified documents relating to sensitive historical and political events. then Chiron/Pluto is perhaps about the breaking of taboos. A taboo may create a condition of frozen non-experience which itself is denied. THE CHIRON-PLUTO CYCLE The last conjunction of Chiron and Pluto occurred on July 19th. relating to the beginning of the cycle. reached perihelion in 1989 in the sign of Scorpio. and crossed out again in February 1999. it would not have been classed as a planet. our planet Pluto. but relieved. the myth. tending towards the light of the Sun. Although this makes complete symbolic sense.U. suggested that Pluto should be re-classified as a ‘Minor Planet’. the only one used by most astrologers until the Centaurs were discovered. empty and peaceful. at 3°41' Leo. This is the terrain of the god Hades. .. Brian Marsden of the I. Its current status as ‘chief Centaur’ clarifies Chiron’s symbolism as messenger.. However. PLUTO NEARLY RE-CLASSIFIED Pluto itself was recently the subject of huge controversy in the world of scientific astronomy when Dr. Thus the Centaurs seem to symbolise the contents which emerge from the deeper background of historical. to which he returned. they mark out areas of enormous suffering. and their ancestry. hostility. then to have that melt and gush forth in a catharsis of expression or discharge which leaves one feeling shaken.. which are not ‘out fault’ but which we nonetheless have to work with. and which attracts more of the same. Pluto.

. said to be a ‘non-sacred planet’ in the process of becoming sacred.. void.. It is well-known that near-death experiences very often result in a powerful spiritual connection for the individual.! Someone once sent me a card on which was written "HIS DISGUISE IS PERFECT". my ‘prediction’ is that it soon will be.. as potential disaster looms simultaneously on several fronts . the emerging spiritual needs and the vision from which it is emanating are appropriated by the world of bill-boards and advertising.S. Therefore meaning. However. and become trivialised in catch-phases that encourage you to buy this or that product. just before the last Chiron/Pluto conjunction... belief and aspiration is intolerable unless you have an unshakeable faith which goes even deeper and can encompass these states..... for this metaphysical emptiness.. lack of meaning. the spiritual wasteland.."Like guardian angels . consumerism and ‘more is better’ are all negative Jupiter manifestations.Eliot’s exquisite poem "East Coker". economy. So our contemporary culture protects itself by compensation and denial... Today... dark... our god-image is wounded. greed. the absurdity perceived by the mind breaking up under the weight of its own preconceptions and bereft of the capacity for reverence.... which may be the necessary prelude for a true rebirth of individual meaning... the horror of meaninglessness... "Oh dark.1999) I found these phrases in the advertisements "Remember when something new gave you wings" .. Watch that space.. In Esoteric Astrology....... which is where we are now . I imagine God saying "Well. world health. To truly embrace the Divine is an earth-shaking experience.. most people are not reading the sacred texts any more.... so I’ll have to spell things out for them in places where they do look".. religion. It is ‘not cool’ to have noble aspirations. (the GPS gets you and your rental car back to civilisation)" . turning this inside-out... high principles and to try and live them... However. it is a ‘loss of spiritual innocence’ where we let go of our regressive wish to be taken care of by an omnipotent and benign parent-figure who we think should make us comfortable and safe. Instead. we do not know whether the human race will survive. which was written in 1940. Sagittarian and Plutonian themes abound here . .. excitement....ecology. like the Sagittarian Centaur run amok. or how. food and fuel supplies..... In only one issue of Time Magazine (October 11." THE WOUNDED GOD IMAGE Taboo exists in our relationship with God.. flaunting the illusions of ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’. dark.the vision of potential disaster in the future perhaps also holds the possibility for spiritual awakening.. and our own true nature too ... spirituality......"From here the big picture is clear". in need of repair.. "Two more ways oneworld revolves around you" . we have ‘options’ proliferating in everything from bank accounts to cornflakes.... spiritual ideals. Sagittarius rules the Earth.. Speed. It is the world of T... purpose and our highest aspirations also become taboo."Because our corporate message is beyond words" .. and this is the condition of our home planet today."and then there was light" .. Meanwhile. and the taboo is about admitting the depth of despair and meaninglessness. I would see the ‘global mind’ revealing an incoming vision through the most obvious channels available . In other words.. and religious convictions become harshly fundamentalist to avoid destruction in the pit of meaninglessness..the mass media.But what about Pluto in Sagittarius? To be frozen here is the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’.

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