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.

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