Category Archives: Minor Planet Delineation

from Small World Stories


I could be the catalyst that sparks the revolution
I could be an inmate in a long-term institution
I could dream to wide extremes, I could do or die
I could yawn and be withdrawn and watch the world go by
What a waste
— Ian Dury

ONE OF THE KEYS to the delineation of any Centaur is understanding how and why they die. In nearly every myth involving a Centaur, he or she dies or is killed. Death in this sense stands in for the idea of how we go about the process of change or transition that is so essential to Centaurs as astrological factors. There is almost always a complicated psychological and emotional process involved. Each Centaur speaks to one or more versions of that process.

Hylonome (pronounced hy-la-na-me) chooses to kill herself, the only Centaur I know of who commits intentional suicide. There are two myths that come close, however. Pholus kills himself ‘accidentally’ when out of curiosity he picks up a poison arrow and drops it on his foot. It is a kind of reckless suicide. Chiron, after a long struggle with a mortal wound, makes an arrangement with Zeus to leave his immortal physical body and be incarnated on another plane of reality, ‘in heaven’, as it were. His choice is voluntary but could not properly be called suicide.

Hylonome kills herself after her consort, the alpha male of the Centaurs Cyllarus, is killed. There are two versions of the death of Cyllarus — one where he is killed in battle, and another where he is struck by a spear that comes out of nowhere. Hylonome is there in both versions, but she cannot save him. Both myths are interesting and applicable, but to me the ‘out of nowhere’ version is the more salient.

We know how Hylonome dies: she kills herself, out of grief, on the same javelin that killed Cyllarus. She chooses to die — but does she really choose? Or are there other influences?

Melanie Reinhart points out that this resembles the practice in India sometimes called sati, where a widow supposedly chooses to be burned on her husband’s funeral pyre. The practice has its origin in the myth of Shiva and Sati. It’s a complicated myth, but Shiva was insulted by Sati’s father, who had rejected him in front of all the other gods. She could not take the insult; so she spontaneously combusted.

Sati transformed out of myth and became a horrible crime by society and culture where widows were either forced to jump in the pyre or live a lifeless life — shunned. While the practice is obviously long abolished, the scar is still exists. The term sati is also sometimes interpreted as “chaste woman.”

In the myth of Cyllarus and Hylonome, we have on the surface a story about the subjugation of a woman’s life to that of a man. Hylonome was a strong, passionate woman Centaur (there were not many) who might have been a symbol of unbridled female passion. But she seems to have done the inevitable, which was fall in love with the alpha-male of the Centaurs. Then she kills herself on the spear that killed him. We get perhaps an early myth in the cycle that inspired Romeo and Juliette or any number of tragedies.

Their deaths are senseless. We indulge this raw, naked stupidity of loss like pornography: loss for its own sake.

Looking at the total story of her life, it’s almost as if she had all this potential and then threw it away on some bloke. So, what is being grieved in the myth of Cyllarus and Hylonome?

Is it their deaths, or the lost potential of their lives? Or is it the lost potential of Hylonome in her choices? The loss of a beautiful man, by chance or in battle, like so many fall? Is it the loss of their relationship, another chapter in the saga of lovers who just die for no reason? Well, all of the above. The message is, it’s a waste.

Waste is one of the hardest things to accept — the meaninglessness of it gnaws away at one’s mind and feelings, because the mind insists on trying to make sense, construct a meaningful story, out of everything, and with things like this it can’t; and so it goes into a kind of spin. I think that’s how Hylonome’s mind came up with her solution, to kill herself; it really seemed like one to her.

Tracy Delaney wrote in a recent essay on Cyllarus and Hylonome, “She may be someone for whom endings are inconceivable, incomprehensible, just totally out of the question (Neptune acknowledges no boundaries). Or she may simply be what any of us might feel at the time of the initial shock and disbelief.”

We can sum up Hylonome’s role in the myth effectively in two words: self-inflicted. This infliction may exist as part of a family pattern — that is, the family inflicts injury on itself and its members. For many years through the 1950s and 1960s, Nessus and Hylonome were in a long conjunction that moved through Taurus and in to Gemini. We need to be mindful that a great many of us have this conjunction in our natal charts and need to distinguish the energies consciously (as with any conjunction).

My take on the conjunction is that it’s about admitting the abuse inflicted on the generations that came through the divorce era of Western society (which has not ended, but the trend seems to have really gained steam with this conjunction), and then the ways in which we took that abuse on, and continue to inflict it on ourselves. In this conjunction, there is the quality of the victim continuing to inflict the perpetrator’s injury on perself. Look to Quaoar for additional details of the family pattern that might be involved.

Mass Grief; The Cry of the Poor

We see themes of mass grief showing up in Hylonome. Taking a chart that is perhaps the most historically famous event involving mass grief in modern history, the Kennedy assassination [Nov. 22, 1963, 12:30 pm, Dallas, TX), we find Hylonome early in the 4th house (the ancient house of fathers; the house of home). Nessus in early Gemini is close to the nadir in the 3rd house. Hylonome represents the emotional and security aspect of this injury, and Nessus the psychological aspect.

Juan Revilla gives the keywords “the cry of the poor” to describe Hylonome, which were demonstrated during the Scorpio New Moon of Nov. 12, 2004. In Astrology Secrets Revealed of Nov. 19, 2004, I wrote:

The most significant news was the passing of Rahman Abdel-Raouf Arafat Al-Qudwa on Thursday morning, known to the world as Yasser Arafat: terrorist to some, hero to others, and Nobel Prize winner. This will, no doubt, shuffle the deck on the balance of power in the Middle East. He died of unknown causes during the exact aspect of Moon occult Mars in the final degree of Libra, fitting astrology for the death of a warrior. There is much speculation about the cause of death, which is not being released at this time. The morning of Arafat’s passing, the Moon and Mars proceeded directly into Scorpio, joining the Sun. The next day (Friday) was the Scorpio New Moon. With this lunation applying to within one degree of orb (that is, at the very end of the lunar cycle), Arafat’s body arrived at Ramallah on the Gaza Strip amidst a crowd of tens of thousands of Palestinian men firing automatic weapons into the air for two hours, and was buried per Muslim law before sunset on the first day after his death.
The New Moon occurred tightly conjunct the centaur planet Hylonome, which has associations with grief and mass appeal. When research astrologers see extremely rare world events such as this combine with the prominent astrology of a relatively new planet, this is how they come to understand that planet’s significance. It is a slow process, but it has its transcendent moments. That Arafat’s funeral occurred in the last moments before a Scorpio New Moon is stunning enough. However, the presence of Hylonome speaks to the grief created by this seemingly endless, unbearably violent struggle between the Palestinians and the Israelis.


CHARIKLO was the wife of Chiron; not a Centaur but a nymph. She was designated a Centaur planet in honor of her relationship to Chiron. There are very few woman Centaurs. One is Hylonome, the consort of Cyllarus, and the other is Okyrhoe. The Centaurs are predominantly male-gendered energies.

Chariklo’s discovery date is Feb. 15, 1997 at the Kitt Peak observatory in Arizona. The discovery came as part of the work of Spacewatch Team and was made by an astronomer named J. V. Scotti. Announcement of the discovery was made on Feb. 24, 1997. Her orbital period is 63.1 years, between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. Like Bienor, Chariklo crosses the orbit of Uranus.

In a way similar to Vesta, Chariklo holds space for the process of another. Yet Vesta does so for impersonal reasons. In the story of Chiron and Chariklo, she does so for the most personal: Chiron is her husband. He lives a long time after he is injured, so imagine the depth, intensity and duration of that companionship. We can surmise that she played a part in his decision to transcend his physical existence and negotiate the agreement with Zeus whereby Chiron is freed from his suffering and Prometheus is freed from his imprisonment on the rock.

We have her here in the role of counselor, but there is obviously more to the picture than that.

Based on her orbital characteristics, Philip Sedgwick suggests that she is about the “need for definition between intimacy and personal space” and “seeking definition of human interaction and boundaries” and “desire to help without co-dependent interference.”

The shadow side of this can work precisely the other way. We may not understand why an abused woman stays with a man (or vice versa) but from the outside it seems to make no sense. There would be an internal emotional logic to the situation (call it what you will) that is irrespective of the appearances to an observer. Chariklo can represent the inability or difficulty with leaving an inappropriate or hurtful companion. In such situations, I suggest checking the placement of the asteroid Hebe as well.


ASBOLUS, discovered in 1995 and orbiting our Sun in 76 years, is the the fourth-ever Centaur and the second planet ever to have been named by the International Astronomical Union at the suggestion of astrologers. The first was Nessus, discovered two years earlier.

Asbolus crosses the orbits of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, the modern planets that were discovered by science. In this respect, Asbolus is associated with distinctly modern issues, including the rise of technology; issues of power and technology; the resulting use of ‘modern magic’; the pain caused by the dissolution of family and community; the rise of the Corporation as the supreme civic power.

But as Alice Miller pointed out, we need to come to the difficult conclusion that we were all abused children in our society, and that has provided us with a wealth of injury we can use as fodder for growth and expression. As with all Centaurs, any injury associated with the planet tends to focus power, awareness and ability, which in the case of Asbolus may be extraordinary — both the pain, and the gift.

Asbolus in Greek means ‘carbon dust’, and carbon is the basis of all life and all organic chemistry. Inherent in the idea is the gift of life. It is the one of two things that all living things have in common, the second being the need to survive. People with a prominent Asbolus (such as in the ascendant) have usually been through difficult or catastrophic upbringings but appear to have managed to survive relatively unscathed. They may have hid behind the couch as their parents threw things at one another, or suffered abuse and betrayal by one or both parents. But they have lived to tell the story, so what we have is the planet of The Survivor.

However, like a cat or dog who will not reveal that it is ill, Asbolus people may cloak or conceal their pain, so as not to arouse the attention of predators. In such a situation the defenses that arise out of the conditioning would be subtle and complex.

Regardless, much of the game on this planet does amount to survival, and prominence of Asbolus in a natal chart appears to bestow the ability to keep walking through the mine-field of life no matter how explosive it may be. Asbolus may bestow protection, adaptability, or blessing under adversity, even when one is unaware of these things. However, that may not always be appreciated for what it is, resulting in various fear complexes or what are called in current parlance intimacy issues.

Regarding carbon dust, Asbolus connects us with the most basic element at the core of terrestrial life, a deep contact with something organic and essential — the ability and the impulse to endure, live and even thrive despite it all.

A short delineation would sound like this: “Survival and the recognition of having survived. Deep contact with something organic and essential — the ability to endure and even thrive ‘despite it all’. Asbolus arrives with intense circumstances but also protection from victimhood, and protection even when it seems like none is there, such as in the story ‘Footsteps’.”

In counseling, explore the client’s level of faith, the basis of their faith and what may have shaken it. It may be necessary to explain the fact that they made it and that the original trauma is over. There may be a need to connect to something elemental, to consciously engage their source of strength, and to claim some credit for having been through so much and come out intact.

Check the influence of Chiron transits for the flow of events that have shaped the life; check Nessus to learn the nature of specifically betrayal-related or sexual abuse. A Nessus transit might time such an event. Pholus adds a reference to the generational nature of the experience, and where it might most provocatively express itself; where it might seek release.


NESSUS IS a Centaur planet that assists with identifying and healing of abuse patterns. But on another level, it reveals the complex interplay of causes and effects; of stated motives, underlying motives and of outcomes. While it can address cycles of karma, the most poignant key concept comes from Melanie Reinhart: the buck stops here, indicating that it in some situations it speaks to the conclusion of the karmic cycle involved: the truth revealed, the perpetrator caught, the situation resolved, responsibility taken.

Though it comes with a particularly nasty myth, its effect is not necessarily malefic; it can just as easily help with resolving difficult situations as it can be involved with their creation. Someone with a strong or well-aspected Nessus may have used their own struggle, sense of guilt and deep feeling of personal responsibility to evolve into a position of being truly helpful to others with many of the same issues. While a price was paid for this gift, few would doubt that it was worth it.

Nessus was the third-ever discovered Centaur (discovered in 1993) and was, notably, the first planet named at the recommendation of astrologers. Its orbital period is 122.5 years, and it crosses the orbits of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

In mythology, Nessus is part of the cycle involving the deaths of Chiron, Pholus and himself. In this group of connected stories, Chiron, an immortal, was injured accidentally and dies by choice after a long struggle, during which he creates many drugs and remedies.

Pholus was killed instantly due to his idle curiosity, and his death seems to be the pointless consequence of his unconscious actions.

Nessus was killed by Heracles in revenge for having sex with Heracles’ wife Deianeira. He manages to kill Heracles in return using Deianeira as a kind of unwitting contract murderer whom he deceives into ending her husband’s life years later. Of the three, Nessus’ death is the most complex, which is noteworthy because a structural key to understanding the action or meaning of a Centaur planet is how the Centaur dies in the myth. Death, as in the tarot, represents the means of transformation.

Where Nessus is at work, you can look for a complex web of interrelation, a sequence of events where one thing leads to another but the pieces of the story don’t necessarily seem connected. You may have to connect the dots and see the pattern for yourself.

There may be some form of abuse of trust, and it may be subtle — until you see it clearly for what it is. An abuse pattern indicated by Nessus can be psychological, physical or sexual in nature; it can involve ‘potentially inappropriate’ [but not necessarily inappropriate] contact or behavior; and it can involve revenge. Nessus has themes that feel like the return of karma that may have an extremely long trajectory, like a boomerang that takes the long way around the world.

Actions have consequences, and once you notice those effects, you can almost always discover the source. Nessus is a very helpful diagnostic tool in handling situations with these themes of betrayal, deception, murder, sexual abuse and sexual infidelity. It works just as well to reveal something about where and how we’ve been hurt in the past, and how we’re likely to hurt others — and how we can heal that pattern and its resulting injuries.

Nessus refers to the power dynamics that underly any form of abuse — vitally important themes today in the western world, as we discover we were all abused as kids. Power and abuse dynamics always appear in relationships first, then they appear in one’s inner emotional patterning, and the relationship pattern of that lifetime. Nessus reminds us that physical abuse and psychological abuse work about the same way, and suggests that quite often psychological abuse is more insidious because so often we don’t know it’s happening, and we don’t necessarily think it happened. Nessus can reveal what is invisible in an abuse pattern.

Nessus can point to the circumstances that surround rape, incest, sexually-transmitted diseases and, moreover, the psychological and emotional relationship patterns that create these things. Put two charts together and you can see something about how these dynamics appear between people. Nessus can be used to investigate the lives of our parents and their relationships to others in the family. In most of our charts, Nessus is in a conjunction to another Centaur named Hylonome. This conjunction went on for quite a long time (extending from Taurus into Gemini) and represents the darker side of the 1950s and 1960s in which we were all suffering enormously as kids under the social changes of the era and our parents’ frequent inability to process the lives they were somehow forced to live or not live.

Abuse can be overt. But it can also involve being left unparented for long periods of time when you needed help, love or warmth; it can include being made to sleep in a crib in a separate room from your parents as an infant. It can involve the way you are spoken to, or violence you are exposed to in your environment.

Nessus can point to information, people and circumstances that help lift the veil. These patterns may relate to circumstances and emotions surrounding our mother’s pregnancy (particularly in situations involving adoption), feelings about sex that permeate the family, attitudes toward children, and the general psychological climate of the household.

In between 2005 and 2007, Chiron and Nessus were in a conjunction in Aquarius. The conjunction highlights the intentionally deceptive nature of the news media, particularly broadcast media. Contrary to popular perception, the media is used as a tool to manipulate public perception rather than inform the public, and studying this process at this time would make an interesting study of how Nessus functions, particularly in.


PHOLUS WAS the second Centaur discovered. It was due to this discovery that the planetary class was defined (Chiron, the first, and Pholus, the second, were then grouped into the new class). The properties of that class included the objects being relatively small bodies which crossed the orbits of major planets and which were not in any previously known orbit. Physically, Chiron and Pholus are distinctly different, with Chiron being a very large comet and Pholus resembling a rocky asteroid with a reddish hue [source is RVH; cite needed].

Centaur discoveries proceeded very rapidly from here — consistent with the archetypal nature of Pholus, which can connote seemingly instant transformation of whatever it touches, often driven by curiosity. Of course, the process may have been underway covertly for many years, and Pholus shows up as, or concurrently with, a catalyst of some kind that precipitates the process. As such, it is wise to look to the past for influences on the seemingly instantaneous changes of the present, including influences that reach to the grandparents and great grandparents.

The designation and rapid progress of the Centaur class is the perfect metaphor for Pholus. Chiron, by contrast, was first seen in 1895 and not discovered until 1977. Fifteen years later, Pholus was discovered and within a relatively short time, there were dozens of new Centaurs. Chiron is associated with long delays followed by rapid changes; Pholus is about rapid changes prompted by something as seemingly insignificant as idle curiosity.

Pholus has an orbital period of just over 92 years, and crosses the orbits of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, as well as many, many other Centaurs. As such, all things Pholus seem to involve the transgression of known boundaries and limits; to exceed expectations of the effects or consequences; and to reach out to unusual distances in time and space. Thus, this includes multigenerational effects (three generations is usual) and the release of effects from causes that exist primarily in prior generations.

As such it can refer to events that seem to have a small cause and a big effect: chance encounters, seemingly small decisions or passive inquiries that result in changes far greater than you would expect. Any time you encounter such an effect, check for a transit to or from Pholus.

In 1992, there was another significant “second of its kind discovery” within a class of planets: that of the first planet beyond the Pluto-Charon binary system — the as yet unnamed (15760) 1992 QB1. 1992 QB1 proved the existence of the then-theoretical Kuiper Belt, and shortly after it was given its name. The Kuiper Belt is now known to be home to millions of objects, which have become the cutting edge of astrology and of planetary astronomy. In this and many other ways, Pholus is associated with releasing, multiplying and expanding, though the most poignant concept so far assigned to the planet comes from Robert von Heeren: Small cause, big effect.

As of this writing, there are scores of named bodies in both classes (Centaurs and Kuiper objects), which together constitute a completely different Solar System cosmos than the ones that any prior generations of astrologers or astronomers have encountered or even pondered. The relationship between Kuiper objects and Centaurs is that many of the Centaurs, which resemble comets, are believed to have been pulled in from the Kuiper Belt and have taken up temporary orbits within the solar system. The Kuiper Belt –

In a sense, Pholus offered a “vague precognition” to the discovery of these realms, other keywords given by von Heeren. Yet when Pholus is involved, such vague perception often leads to concrete and tangible results. Something starts like a wispy notion (Neptune-styled) and then rapidly takes on form (Saturn-styled) in an innovative, rapid or revolutionary way (Uranus-styled) and can have penetrating effects (like Pluto).

Given that Pholus’s orbit crosses the orbits of all three modern planets, with their revolutionary changes and compelling spiritual processes, as well as that of Saturn, you can be sure it carries enormous energy wherever it goes, that it can go nearly anywhere, and can wear many masks.

At times, the energy of Pholus feels like a pressure release, akin to shaking up a bottle of Pepsi on a hot day, and promptly opening it. It’s just that the stuff keeps coming out. A genie coming out of a bottle is perhaps a better metaphor, but that, too, comes with the sense of materialization.

Pholus has a quality of opening the door to the infinite. Depending on the door, that may or may not be helpful, or seem helpful, but it is what it is and when Pholus has become active, it’s necessary to get out of denial and work with the energy consciously.

Pholus has the property of release from situations, thus opening to new possibilities, and emerging into new states of existence. It is the Centaur of fast-moving changes, or rapid transformations, typically initiated by one’s own action. Something as simple as curiosity or a chance encounter may start the chain of events.

One quality of Pholus experience is, “I would never have done that if I knew what I was getting into,” sometimes with the added idea, “but I’m glad I did.” A small gesture that leads to something large, a minor project that becomes one’s life work, an experiment that takes on a life of its own, leading to many developments, all are properties of Pholus.

Pholus, von Heeren adds, is “the catalyst and provider for a landslide-like change (in history for example) and turning points,” adding, “Pholus exaggerates energies in their raw state. Pholus is an emphasizer.”

In some cases, Pholus activity represents or instigates situations in which something gets out and you can’t get it back in, such as when riots begin and the government cannot stop them, or you make one change and it cascades into a series of other developments. This same quality also gives Phlous experiences the quality of a leap to a new level.

Another quality of Pholus is anything involving three generations, which relates to its mythology. Pholus was the keeper of a cask of wine given to him by Dionysus, which he had kept three generations, and which was the collective property of all the Centaurs. Wherever there is a question within an astrology counseling situation that may be multigenerational, no matter what the subject, the position of Pholus in the natal chart or transits at the time can offer insight and assistance.

Look for the influence of ancestors, issues and gripes to be taken up with ancestors, and one’s relationship to predecessors of any kind. Pholus, in this respect, addresses issues that belong to the entire tribe, collective psychological property, and group responses to situations.

Pholus has a relationship to addictions and the healing of addictions, as well as their causes and consequences, which often have multigenerational and group causes and effects that may or may not include the actual substance itself — but rather the effects of being raised under its influence, attitudes toward the substance, or attitudes passed from a grandparent.

[Additional Notes]

Pholus points to multigenerational issues. It tells us what we have taken on from our grandparents and great grandparents, including matters involving addiction and, once again, sacrifice. Important keywords for Pholus are “three generations.” Read that into your aspects where Pholus makes contact with any planet. Pholus has a way of making fast or even instantaneous transitions and healing processes whereas Chiron makes slow ones. It’s as if Pholus says: three generations? That’s enough! You figured it out! Now you’re free!

We know from science and various ‘alternative’ health and spiritual disciplines that material is transmitted from generation to generation genetically, including memories; that it’s passed along energetically; that it’s passed on by limbic resonance (such as emotional patterning in the family of origin), and then there’s good old-fashioned karma: the sum total of all we’ve already created.

Pholus — its natal placement and its transits — gives us a compass pointer on these themes, helping us by offering clues about what our clients are looking for. It also deals with addiction patterns and the relationship between desire and a substance (which are always multigenerational issues in nature). Pholus also addresses the sudden unloosing of long-restrained energy, including in a family lineage. In astrology, we often have to consider these groupings of themes intuitively and see the connections between them (this method is good for figuring out what a house is about). Most often I’ve seen Pholus appear prominently where a person is taking on the role of the one in the generational line who wants to get it right, who wants to heal all this stuff they’ve inherited from all those weird people who came before.

But the most vivid and palpable energy of Pholus is release. Think of the combined intensity of Saturn (the container) and then Uranus and Neptune (that which is contained). Pholus opens the container and lets something out, a bit like Pandora. Whereas Chiron can represent long and slow transformations (though not always), Pholus tends to make things happen more suddenly: level shifts, changes of mind, healing processes.

Pholus: Small cause, big effect. Pholus has the property of release from situations, opening to possibilities, and emerging into new states of existence. It is the Centaur of fast-moving changes, or rapid transformations, typically initiated by one’s own action, minor though it may seem.


WAY AT THE BEGINNING, someone named Al Morrison summed up Chiron brilliantly, if incompletely, when he called it the ‘inconvenient benefic’. Chiron nearly always bestows a profound gift; it will save us over and over, waking us up just in the nick of time; but the events surrounding it almost always seem a bit shocking as they occur. Though over time, a degree of mastery of Chiron’s most fundamental energy may be attained: and that energy is awareness.

This quality extends through all the Centaur planets which arrived after Pholus (the second Centaur) was discovered in 1992; each makes us aware of something different, and each helps us reclaim some cast-off aspect of our existence. They all point to what are typically unnoticed cycles of our lives, thereby calling attention to patterns of changes we might otherwise have missed.

Chiron has an orbit of just under 51 years. It is elongated such that at one end, Chiron will move through Virgo and Libra in about 18 months each, while at the other, it will move through Pisces and Aries in about 9 years. This means that at one phase of history people can have a key Chiron transit (such as Chiron square its own natal position) as young as seven and as old as 23.

Some say the basic nature of Chiron is about healing, but if that is true, awareness is the most frequent agent of that process. Melanie Reinhart gives the keyword transition; when awareness changes, that is inherently a transition. Chiron may arrive in the form of a practitioner who assists with a change or healing process, and what most healers teach is awareness, principally self-awareness. This often arrives in the form of change, and what change most often teaches us is awareness.

This was well understood at the time of Chiron’s discovery in 1977, when there was still such a thing as the Human Potential Movement: a secular (not spiritual) movement that involved people teaching one another to be aware, holding the space for one another to own their faults and virtues, and to take responsibility for their lives as a conscious act. Chiron remains a living agent of the Human Potential Movement, or more accurately, of any movement devoted to expressing human potential.

Anyone who has tried knows how difficult this usually is. We encounter the maxim love brings up everything unlike itself. We meet those who assist us in our transition consciously and effectively; they are Chirotic in nature. We meet others who assist us through some process of injury and they are Chirotic if we use that injury to transcend being a victim. We also meet healers who wound, who are one of the most common manifestations of Chiron’s shadow side.

Perhaps if humanity were not so intent on denying its awareness, ignoring its knowledge, suppressing its potential and investing its energy in greed, Chiron would feel gentler or not be necessary at all. Perhaps if we considered understanding and embracing our shadow nature as important as seeking the light in our spiritual pursuits, we would not need Chiron. If it were more encouraged to allow curiosity its place, and to let it be a teacher, we would not depend so heavily on Chiron to instigate the experiences and crises we need to learn and grow.

Perhaps if we counted ourselves among the animals we possess, abuse, hunt and consume, connecting with the wounded nature of Chiron’s animal being — in the myth, his lower body is afflicted — would not be so difficult. Yet religion, in teaching us to deny our animal nature, has in a sense trapped us in our shadow nature; our minds cast a long shadow over our bodies. Chiron fundamentally addresses the mind-body split from which so many people suffer. Almost all events or developments involving Chiron can be seen in terms of mind/body divisions. Typically any healing associated with Chiron can arrive in the form of becoming aware of those divisions.

The most poignant example of such injuries can be seen is in our approach to sexuality in Western culture. We crave sex; we romanticize it; we exploit it for every possible purpose; we demonize it and make it a crime. Then, based on the lack of awareness necessary to make any of that happen, we get caught in the injuries of guilt, possession and jealousy. We can, understandably, confuse guilt and jealousy with sexuality itself.

If, under the influence of a Chiron transit and its accompanying events, we investigate these things, we might confuse the shadow material that emerges with Chiron itself, and not view Chiron as the source or metaphor for the awareness that is helping us be free. The ultimate goal of any Chiron process, or perhaps any life process, is attaining freedom, and freedom is most meaningfully experienced as the freedom to make a conscious decision.

Chiron is about integrating the experiences that make us aware of ourselves, our role in the community and our relationships with others. In this respect, the way to understand Chiron is not by book learning or astrological theory, but rather by investigating the events associated with Chiron transits, and our responses to them. Just as with a homeopathic remedy, there is no one interpretation of any Chiron placement, transit or experience. Some theory is helpful, but Chiron is primarily a workbook. The astrology student working on per own chart, or the astrologer serving a client, will get the necessary knowledge about a Chiron placement by listening carefully to the events from a series of several Chiron transits, noting the common threads and finally, noticing the direction of the overall movement.

Appropriate questions relating to these transits include, ‘What did you learn?’ , ‘What did you become aware of?’, and ‘What are you aware of now?’

Chiron teaches through direct knowledge, a thing almost unheard of in our current era of history. Traditional astrologers who say they have difficulty grasping Chiron probably have this trouble because they are trying to get it in theory first, rather than through what we and our clients learn from real-life developments.

It is best not to think of Chiron as a planet to be interpreted but rather as a sequence of events in a lifetime, going back to childhood or before. These events both teach values and describe a growth process.

What you have in the above paragraphs is more than enough theory to apply Chiron in astrological practice. No books are necessary; if you check the transits of Chiron — to its own natal position; to the ascendant and other angles; and to key points in the chart — you will get a sense of the process in that individual. It may be possible to understand the transition or struggle for consciousness involved, and intuitively sense the next step; that is, if you are listening carefully for clues to what is happening beneath and behind the story line. Look for motives and now they manifest; choices and how they end up; and what just seems to happen as time goes on. You are not just looking for a litany of the past. You are looking for patterns, and for some expression of how the person feels about the past in the present, as if it were still a living thing.

Through this process of awareness-raising, we can begin to tap into some of the promise of Chiron’s discovery degree, 4 degrees of Taurus, which is ‘The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’ — that which links the celestial and mundane orders of reality, or, translated in to human terms, the mind and the body, which are connected by awareness.

Chiron In the Natal Chart

The typical quality of one’s natal Chiron might sound like this. It’s a place of obvious focus, sometimes success, often what you could call productive struggle. Fritz Perls referred to the power of frustration as a teacher, and this is often how natal Chiron feels. One of two things occurs frequently: unusual power gathers there, special talent, an exception granted or unusual knowledge gained; or there is repeated injury. All together, these comprise a process of experience and learning.

This locus of experience will typically take on the qualities of the house placement. The person may not feel particularly strong there; it may seem like a point of special weakness. The sign placement will provide a kind of filter and show the contact between the individual experience (the house) and the collective (the sign). The sign will also show something of the style of the expression.

The placement will be expressed, seemingly blocked, or modified by the aspects involved. While these are cataloged in some books, careful listening to circumstances at the time of Chiron transits will reveal the nature of the natal position and the aspects. In general, we could say that Chiron will try to raise an unconscious Pluto process to full awareness; it will tend to focus the diffuse experience of Neptune; it will ground the radical changes of Saturn in some tangible form; and it will give a clear expression to the wisdom and experience-seeking of Jupiter.

Where an inner planet is involved, the developing and expressing the quality of that planet will be intensified, as if it’s cracked open and some element of its nature is allowed to come out; it will tend to dominate the life, though in different ways at different times.

Chiron energy can often express itself as a helping or teaching role in the community. You get everything from acclaimed masters to exemplars on many levels to people who don’t remotely practice what they preach. In a sense, all are at different points along the same path, and if Chiron is involved, you can be pretty sure that the damage of any negative expressions will be limited and events will point someone in the direction of growth, progress and mastery — no matter how gradual it may seem.

Events and developments at the time of transits to Chiron’s natal position will bring up situations that express the nature of the natal placement. The natal themes and the transit themes are closely related, perhaps more so than with any other planet. The fundamental experience of developing and focusing consciousness of the natal placement will persist, seeming to reach peaks at the time of the transit, and in the process entirely new levels of expression can be attained.

When Chiron is on an angle natally, it can connote a crisis that is existential, that is, having a life or death quality, or seeming to relate to a struggle for the right to exist. The ability to ground the process of Chiron in a conscious and productive way seems to be related to whether the aspect pattern is connected to the angles or not. If there are not aspects to the angles, Chiron will feel like something in the background without a name. To gain access to the process, the astrologer will need to do a little more teaching and a little more pointing to how certain key experiences connect to Chiron themes.

Now, it is arguable that the process of cultivating awareness happens on some level with every planet, but more accurately we could describe Chiron as reflecting the process of astrology itself. Astrology seems to involve little other than learning to pay attention. A bunch of weird glyphs are involved, true. But as anyone who has studied astrology for an hour knows, most of what we do is try to become aware of what they are saying.

Basic Astronomy of Chiron, and its Application

The discovery of Chiron came with the advent of astrologers and astronomers working together cooperatively for the first time in centuries, building the first bridge of many that Chiron would become associated with.

Brian Marsden at the Minor Planet Center at Harvard University gave Zane Stein an ephemeris for Chiron, and the process of its continuing discovery was begun. Later in the Centaur discovery process, this would continue with Stein, Melanie Reinhart and other astrologers assisting astronomers. Chiron also marked a time when an increasing number of astrologers began taking up their role as cultural astronomers.

Some astrologers would recognize that delineating a new planet would require them to be aware of more science than they previously had ever done and also more classical scholarship. By the late 20th century we had Centaur astrologers who were experts in classics and could interpret ancient Greek, program the ephemerides of these distant planets, and develop original interpretations.

The first keyword for Chiron was assigned by its discoverer, Charles Kowal, when he said, “This thing is a maverick.” He was not intentionally handing this to astrologers, but it was a great gift. Chiron fit no known category of planet; it was not orbiting in a known orbit and crossed the orbits of other planets, and there was nothing quite like it. He named it after a hybrid between a man and a horse, resurrecting a nearly forgotten myth and as it turned out, an entire body of then-obscure folklore.

Chiron was actually the second planetary discovery to be an orbit-crosser: it was by the time of the discovery known that Pluto crossed inside the orbit of Neptune. Chiron, for its part, crosses inside the orbit of Saturn and reaches out nearly to the orbit of Uranus. It has an elliptical orbit and moves as slowly as Uranus at its slowest (near aphelion, in Aries, it takes nine years to cross a sign) and considerably faster than Saturn at its fastest (near perihelion, in Libra, it takes 18 months).

This Saturn-Uranus connection provided one of the basic ideas for understanding how Chiron connects the distinctly different experiences of the structured material world (Saturn) and the energized world of change, progress and revolution (Uranus). It was perhaps the first planet to be discussed specifically in terms of its astronomy, and for sure the first where the discovery chart was used consciously in the delineation of the planet.


ONE IS officially named for a traditional goddess (Ceres, the Roman goddess of fertility, whose domain includes food, grain, nourishment, mothers and the pain they endure around their children). Ceres made her appearance in 1801, at the dawn of the industrial age, and was in a sense the harbinger of such changes as mass-scale agriculture. Discovered by the Sicilian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi, she was named for one of the patron goddesses of the island. She represents the qualities of nurturance and nourishment, describing both how we were nourished as a child and the ways we nourish others as adults. Ceres often provides a meaningful commentary on the qualities of one’s mother and one’s tendencies as a mother. But the literal association with grains and food cannot be overlooked. Today, the world still survives principally on wheat, rice and corn. Of note, Ceres was discovered the day that the modern United Kingdom was born, Jan. 1, 1801, the day the Act of Union took effect.”

Ceres is the root of the word cereal; she is the goddess of food and agriculture. In astrological delineation, we can look to her for very specific information about matters relating to food and nurturing, and where the two meet. She can represent the quality of nurturing we got as a child, and how we function (or don’t) as nurturers in our relationships.

Before moving onto Pluto, it is very, very well worth noting that on New Year’s Day 1801, two hundred years ago, a new kind of planet was discovered. This was Ceres, the first asteroid. Ceres was the second planet ever named for a woman and the first new planet named for a woman; and of course, she was “not a planet.” Planets were only the big things going deeper and deeper into space. Ceres is the Roman name of the Greek goddess of agriculture, Demeter; she is about the Earth and its fruits, grains (hence “cereal”) and the guardian of marriage. In discovering Ceres, not counting her for a planet (an issue for both astrologers and astronomers), and then abandoning her, we seemed to be reflecting a cultural process that would, in a very short time, foul the nest known as Earth and lead to many generations of failure to honor relationships, nutrition and nurturing one another.

But Ceres has an added dimension, since her daughter, Persephone, was abducted by Pluto, which grieved her terribly. Ceres represents subject matter that surrounds the mother’s (or primary nurturing parent’s) grief and fears about children, particularly those who are taken to the underworld of crime, prison, drugs, or lost to dark parents. With millions of people unjustly in our prisons today, we have a very important planet and mythological reference to work with.

In terms of agriculture, we are in critical times as well. We are seeing the seizure of the life force by companies which create chemically-sprayed and genetically-modified foods; and at the same time, we’re seeing a significant interest in organic and Biodynamic foods, in a struggle that feels a lot like the daughter of nature struggling for her freedom from the corporate underworld. Ceres is Mother Earth.


THE IMPACT ERIS had on astronomy and our concept of the solar system is essential to her delineation. Being a bit bigger than Pluto (which is smaller than the Moon), her discovery prompted a reevaluation of the notion of a planet and thus the rearrangement of planetary definitions. This took place late in the summer of 2006, mixed up with much controversy, some fanfare and notably, a solar eclipse in Virgo.

Eris to me is about how we make sense of who we are in troubled, chaotic times. She reveals how complex we really are, which fact remained just below the surface of awareness.

She also represents the shadow feminine — the aspects of womanity that have been cast off as evil, dark, unacceptable and unmentionable. She is one of several of these archetypes that are gradually being embraced by astrology and to some extent by culture. This represents the idea that we are beginning to call back that disowned part of womanity and embrace her: the witch, the whore, the bitch, the unfulfilled woman; no matter what form she may take, the woman who is setting aside the war with herself and embracing her own selfhood.

Eris speaks about the chaos and discord of the world, reflective of our time in history — this, one of the co-discovers told me personally. Yet the roots of this crisis, the crisis of discord, are in the psyche. The havoc and discord of our era are not just about stupid wars; they’re also about cultural overload and a crisis of consciousness.

The Psyche, and Society, in Crisis

This mass-scale crisis in turn has led to a social environment in chaos. Relationships in American and English society used to be very structured. (In Europe too, but things are currently a bit more structured and traditional here than in the US or the UK.) There were strict rules of courtship and establishing relationships, and most people tried to follow them. Over the past century, a kind of anarchy has set in.

On the one foot, anarchy is great because it presents opportunities to do things differently, and to invent your way as you go along. On the other, this is very difficult because there is a creativity gap in the average human brain, and when most people are not told exactly what to do, sadly, they do not know what to do, and don’t typically feel creative enough to make it up as they go along.

Young people face a particularly painful dilemma. Every young person in the United States was raised under the influence of abstinence only sex education, which is vicious by any humane standards, but seems friendly on the basis of (for example) the Muslim world. Then, young people, whose hormones are raging, are exposed to an overwhelming volume and intensity of sexualized marketing and “culture.” There are few things that could start an internal war more effectively.

I view Eris as a nexus point in the psyche were we can peer through this crisis into the real person. She is ultimately the goddess of peace, which also works in terms of an archetype arising when its time has come.

World peace is difficult to achieve when even two people who quite like each other can turn a petty disagreement into World War III. Eris’ story is an everyday occurrence.

Eris is a creature of Aries; she has been there for most of this century and will be for some time to come. The point of Aries (the “Aries point”) is that the personal is political: that the individual is inextricably linked to the whole — and that’s why it’s next to Pisces. The Aries Point is where they meet, or fuse. Eris appearing in Aries is saying, “OK, this will be a long job, but it starts with you.”

Until you can let your ego take a hit, knowing you’ll never live up to how gorgeous the next celebrity is, knowing that the real you hasn’t been touched by your own life, you will continue to fight. You will fight unnecessary and potentially catastrophic battles over nothing, and will continue to be a part of the problem. The things we are most afraid to lose, and will fight for, are the things by which we define ourselves (e.g., beauty), threaten the ego and watch even the most apparently sophisticated of people (e.g., the goddesses) lose all perspective.

This will continue until you truly seek and find your Self, your unified self, and live from that core of your being. Eris may at times be where we provoke or are provoked. She seems very Centaur-like in her teaching methods, working with shaking up the known order of reality until it becomes fully conscious and we have the ability to make a decision. But the decision of Eris is ultimately this: to be who you are.

Discovery and Naming of Eris

Eris was discovered in 2005 and takes about 557 years to go around the Sun once. It’s currently about 10 billion miles from the Sun. The length of the orbit is deceptive in that it seems like it’s not much farther from the Sun than Pluto (which takes about 251 years to orbit once). However Eris is currently further than even Sedna, which has an orbit of 10,666 years.

Eris was discovered by Michael E. Brown, Chad A. Trujillo and David L. Rabinowitz, who have a knack not only for finding quite a few planets, but also for giving them names that are intuitive and apropos of the moment. Trujillo said recently, “It was the obvious choice to name it after the goddess of discord. ” (Members of this team were also involved in the discovery and naming of Sedna, Varuna and Quaoar. ) ((Varuna is not discovered by this team, Varuna is discovered by Spacewatch.))

Eris, along with much older discoveries Pluto and Ceres, was designated a dwarf planet in the summer of 2006. This was a kind of compromise between not considering it a planet at all, and considering it a traditional kind of planet more like Mercury. Had astronomers taken that road, we could have had a solar system with 60 planets, most of which would have been pretty small compared to even something small like Mercury.

Pretty much everyone agreed this would frighten young children and men with small dicks, so a new category of planets was created: the dwarf planets.

With the naming and designation of Eris, the fixed structure of the scientifically sanctified solar system was altered for the first time since 1930 when Pluto showed up — finally reflecting the existence of many thousands of discoveries beyond Pluto.

Only one of these — Eris herself — got added as a mainstream planet, but there are about 60 known objects that currently qualify as dwarf planets and the door is now open to their recognition. (Some you have heard of, such as Sedna, Varuna and Quaoar; some you have not, such as 1992 QB1).

They present us with a situation: if astrology uses the planets as a model of the psyche, what does it mean that there are now nearly a quarter-million of them known to be orbiting our Sun? What, then, is the structure of the personality?

If Eris is the goddess of discord, the first place we need to look is within ourselves. It is true that her discovers felt that this was an obvious name for such chaotic times, and for a planet that disrupted the known order of the solar system; but Eris represents a revolution of consciousness within ourselves.

She is a focal point in a world where we have too many options to be meaningful.

The issue of these newer planets is set in a larger historical context. Since 1801, when Ceres was discovered, astrology has had the option of working with asteroids, considered too small and too numerous to be meaningful. Since around 1978, it has also had the option of working with unusual bodies like Chiron. But astrology has been slow to adapt to scientific discoveries, and is skeptical to the point that would make a nonbeliever proud.

If anything, astrology has been obsessed in recent decades with a retro movement, wherein scholars including Rob Hand and Robert Schmidt have been digging up and translating classical astrological texts. These projects have certainly enjoyed more popularity and focus at astrology conferences than the new discoveries, which are typically given little more than a nod. As planets are discovered every week, other astrologers return to those simpler days of using “seven lights in the sky” — even omitting Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Originally Called Xena

Unlike any other planet, Eris had a provisional name that was popularly known: Xena, named for the warrior goddess of television fame. It is worth mentioning that there is no other planet that had a widely known provisional name. It was Xena who gave the first clue to the delineation: she is a postmodern figure. In other words, her story does not follow logic; the program could go from the birth of Jesus one week to ancient Egypt the next. Postmodernism throws away the concept of structure and orthodox adherence to reality.

Eris in Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, Eris was the goddess of discord, who, because of her troublemaking tendencies, was not welcome at a big wedding party to which all the other gods and goddesses had been invited. There is plenty of interesting background, but the upshot is that Eris retaliated to being snubbed in a clever and exploitative way. She inscribed a golden apple with the phrase, “To the Fairest,” and rolled it into the door of the soiree. In this gesture, she is revealed to be something of a master psychologist, if a sinister one. Seeing the golden apple, the assembled gods and goddesses, in their vanity, held a pageant to determine who the fairest would be.

But the three contestants who were competing (Athena, Aphrodite and Hera) offered the hapless judge, Paris, different bribes. Aphrodite, one of the contestants, tempted Paris with the most beautiful woman in the world. That turned out to be the Helen of Troy, who was married at the time, among other issues. The result of Eris’s retaliatory prank was the Trojan War, the equivalent of an all-encompassing world war by today’s standards. Here, the personal became political in the most catastrophic kind of way: Eris felt hurt that she was not invited to the party, which we might count as vanity or just a touch of humanity. That hurt transposed to vengeance.

She then took advantage of the vanity of her fellow gods and goddesses, anticipating what they would do. Knowing she would be able to wreak some chaos, perhaps she underestimated just how much. She then stood by as her seemingly small gesture escalated into unmitigated world war, as thousands died and indeed as the world descended into darkness and discord. The

Greek myths offer a clever explanation for just about everything. But what, exactly, are we explaining? How the war started, or how humans came to be this way? In the first instance, is Eris to blame, or is vanity at fault? Well, the two support one another. Someone intent on getting revenge and inciting chaos exploits what you might call a narcissism wound, which exists on both an individual and cultural level as a real vulnerability. Yet still that thirst for specialness and uniqueness and power persists, to the degree of a mystical longing that is indeed answered and used by those who recognize it and can indeed use it to take power of their own.