Arnold Bocklin, Nessus and Deianeira, 1898

Nessus Notes

by Eric Francis

THERE is very little written about the third Centaur, Nessus. Over the years, I've made a variety of comments, but have not actually pulled together one full article on the subject. The scattered ideas, however, do seem to add up to something. Kirsti Melto in Finland, who edits the web page Sphinx, was kind enough to do the work of assembling them.

Melanie Reinhart, one of the truly original writers on the Centaurs, suggests the key phrase, "The Buck Stops here" for Nessus. She did not know the story of Harry Truman having that engraved in a name plate on his desk, so I sent her a photo. Here it is.

The reference is to Truman being such a responsible guy that responsibility ends with him; he doesn't pass the buck. Then I saw this cartoon, of Cheney and Rumsfeld with a desk plate saying, "The Buck Stops With a Higher Power":

The joke may be lost on people who don't know the Truman reference. The weird thing is, Truman was the guy who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And he said he did it because God told him, or said it was okay, however he phrased it in his radio address (the transcript of which is NOT published that I know of, only a corresponding written statement that is phrased quite differently -- if you want to see the radio broadcast, you need to rent The Atomic Café).

Okay so my point is, one theme of Nessus may be "blaming God for the evil you do" -- or situations in which somebody does something you and gives God the responsibility. Melanie says "the buck stops here" and we may be able to add passing the buck to God.

Dubya has Nessus pretty active in his chart right now. We can only hope for the best.

In Brando chart

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What stands out first is that Nessus, the third centaur planet (discovered 1993), is precisely conjunct his Moon, which as I mentioned is two hours before the exact New Moon. The Nessus of mythology was a treacherous character, so vile as to rape the wife of Heracles even as he was charged to save her life. The Nessus of astrology reveals abuse dynamics in both the family and within the psyche; centaur Nessus conjunct his Moon (and his Sun) tells me that there was never really a moment he felt safe.
The trembling vulnerability you see on screen is real and is extant in the midst of violence as well. But it's the role of Nessus to convey healing of abuse, and this Brando did through his depiction of characters that made plain what dark forces so often drive our society. Centaurs always heal by raising awareness first. Nessus seems to illuminate him from within, creating the 'visible man' through his transparent layers.
In April 19 chart

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Now, getting to the theme of all this. We are still under the influence of the April 19 solar eclipse. Remember that one? It was in the last degree of Aries, exactly square Nessus, the third centaur planet. Nessus which deals with none other than: the dynamics of abuse, both sexual and psychological. What I did not say at the time is that Nessus recently stationed retrograde in a degree of the zodiac, the last degree of Capricorn, that deals with government conspiracy -- the secret cabal of men who run the world.
The question of revenge

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The event is exactly square Nessus, the third centaur, whose well-developed delineation and meaning relates to abuse and the healing of abuse, including psychological, sexual and otherwise.
The square aspect is an ACTION point. It is about the resolution of tension.
This particular square questions the presumption of superiority of one person over another, which is the basis of abuse. Underneath that is the loss of self-integrity that leads to such a belief, usually through abuse we have sustained. Nessus questions the whole idea of revenge. We have reached a kind of bottoming out point in our addiction to revenge and are beginning to see its effects.
And there is, in Sun square Nessus, more than anything, a question about the logic that the individual will or ego should preside over other people, do their bidding, or "serve" them to their own detriment.
Did the abuse happen? Nessus and Denial
(Ref to Hylonome and 60s)
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It took me a long time to get into the next two Centaurs, Pholus and Nessus, but that journey began on my trip to Europe in 1998, when I encountered two resources: Melanie Reinhart's book To The Edge and Beyond, and a book by Robert von Heeren and Dieter Koch called Pholus: Wanderer Between Saturn and Neptune (only available in German). When I got to Germany, I looked up Robert, and he started explaining things like no book could, and handed me a lot of material on paper, including an ephemeris for 1992 QB1. On that trip, I researched my own Pholus and Nessus cycles and tuned into their processes. Melanie's book is just superb at delineating the spiritual and psychological processes of Pholus and Nessus. My lover Maria helped translate whatever was in German and we started piecing things together. It took a while for these planets to fully 'turn on' but eventually they started coming through loud and clear.?- - -
Nessus is about power dynamics and the dynamics of abuse, very important themes today in the western world, as we discover we were all abused as kids (and I mean it). 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 tells us that physical abuse and psychological abuse work about the same way, and reminds us that quite often psychological abuse is more insidious because so often we don't know it's happening and we don't think it happened. One question of Nessus is, "did the abuse happen?"

Nessus can point to the circumstances that surround rape, incest, sexually transmitted diseases and, moreover, the 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 (hy-la-na-me).
This went on for quite a long time 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. (This conjunction was a theme of one of the first newsletters in this series, which if I get a few requests, I will re-post).
Nessus and denial dynamics; raising awareness

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In 1977, Chiron was discovered, and found to have been involved with the whole Sixties experience (it was opposite both Uranus and Pluto for a long time), thus bringing in the Pisces or mystic element in a powerful way.
In the 1990s, two additional centaur planets, Nessus (1993) and Hylonome (1995, pronounced hy-la-na-me) were discovered, and these were in a long conjunction with one another in early Gemini from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s. So quite literally hundreds of millions of people are born with one aspect in their charts.?- - -
It's reasonable to say, as a beginning statement and based on my experience working with these planets for a while, that Nessus addresses the theme of abuse, both psychological and sexual.
Hylonome addresses the theme of grief and the healing of grief. Seeing that the two planets existed in a conjunction though these pivotal years suggested to me that there might be another theme to the Sixties that required a closer look. I became interested in how this expressed itself in people's lives and began studying it carefully in the charts of my clients and friends, and in my own chart.
Nessus speaks of two kinds of abuse: one, the insidious kind that doesn't seem like it later on. The other, the kind that was obviously so. Both are about the same thing, and yet in the not-so-obvious kind, there is the problem of not really having a sense of the scale of what happened. Abuse and neglect suffered unconsciously are that much further out of the reach of healing. Bringing them to awareness is often the last thing we want. Dealing consciously with abuse means dealing consciously with the fact of an abuser. In the case of a loved family member, or a family situation that will be challenged or totally disrupted by the fact that we were harmed by them, or by the revelation of a secret that has been guarded for generations, it's natural to be extremely reluctant to proceed, even if we really need to. Family politics can push us down and make the task seem daunting and even stupid. Especially if that abuse or neglect was just a "product of the times." Of course, often, it was much, much more.

Experiencing things as "the way things are"; Nessus as a background influence

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Nessus works much like a super-Chiron focused specifically on the dynamics of abuse. In all cases this abuse is psychological and in most it is not properly identified as what it is; rather, we experience it as "the way things are" and, more to the point, as the way WE are. But we are how we are because of the way we were treated when we were growing up.
The Bottom Line - re Aquarius

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We are now on the eve of another Mars-Chiron conjunction, the first in the sign Aquarius for more than 40 years. Aquarius is the sign of The People and of collective consciousness. It vibrates with themes of freedom, individuality and innovation. To the extent that Aquarius is about oppression (it is) the Chiron factor mitigates that to a great degree. And this time around, it's a three-planet conjunction, involving a Centaur planet called Nessus, whose basic meaning translates to 'the bottom line'. We are making progress, and this conjunction is about progress.??
Waking up the World

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Part of this story is told by the entry of Chiron and Nessus, two high-voltage small planets, into your birth sign. They form a long conjunction through May, which will in many respects wake up the world; yet for you, it is directly personal.
Self esteem crisis of Nessus-Hylonome in Taurus
The wounding associated with "money and materialism are everything" as a way of life.
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Current developments in part involve the positions of two centaur planets -- Nessus and Hylonome -- that spent many years in Taurus and are thus present there in the birth charts of millions of people, spanning from the mid 1940s through the late 1950s. I've currently got this one under the microscope and will tell you more about that next week. But to sum up, the issue of self-esteem is coming up mightily for the Baby Boomers.
Nessus on the GC - 1999

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The Centaur planets Chiron, Nessus and Pholus are in the very late degrees of Scorpio, Sagittarius and Libra, respectively. At the moment of the eclipse, Nessus is conjunct the Galactic Center in late Sagittarius. While Centaur experts hardly view Nessus as a positive influence (it's associated with all kinds of jealousy, betrayal and revenge), I view this as an important and very positive alignment, and a kind of return of consciousness to our Galactic awareness. To its credit, Nessus has strong themes of return and completion. It is obviously meaningful that this little world is aligned with the Galactic center.
Nessus as hybrid of Chiron and Pluto

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Today, a group of astrologers has the distinction of naming new chunks of space debris, and they know they're really special (their first naming success was Nessus, which is a hybrid of Chiron and Pluto).
Chiron-Nessus Conjunction

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Before we move on from Chiron, I need to bring up one other planet that's closely related to Chiron. I know that there are a lot of minor planets to consider, and it may seem like there's no way to tell what's important and what is not. But this, I feel, is significant, so I'm mentioning it. It is not just Chiron that is rising in the Great Wave chart, but rather, Chiron in a conjunction with the centaur planet, Nessus.
Nessus was the third centaur (a new class of planets) ever discovered; this happened in 1993. [And, making history, it was named by astronomers at the recommendation of a small committee of astrologers.] Slowly, Chiron and Nessus have been working their way into a conjunction. They have been close together in Capricorn through much of 2004, and are quite close now. In fact, both Centaurs were close to the ascendant of the Great Wave chart. The themes of Nessus and all those scandals are a lot of what calls the tune of the current world picture. Nessus is like Chiron, only you can add a lot of psychological dynamics, abuse dynamics, and what Melanie Reinhart describes as "the bottom line." Nessus is reminding us of what an abusive world we live in, and now we have something we can do about it.
Potentially inappropriate behavior

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Last planet you mention, Nessus, discovered in 1993. Nessus has the distinction of being the first planet ever named by astrologers. In the late 90s, a committee of minor planet astrologers including Melanie Reinhart, Zane Stein, Dieter Koch and Robert von Heeren, proposed the name to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the official body that approves the names of new discoveries. The name was accepted. This was an unprecedented example of full cooperation between the usually-sundered arts of astrology and astronomy.
Nessus is a planet that addresses the healing of abuse patterns. The abuse can be psychological, physical or sexual in nature; it can be 'potentially inappropriate' contact or behavior; and it can involve revenge. Nessus has themes that feel like 'the return of karma' and what goes around comes around. Actions have consequences, but you can almost always discover the source. Nessus is a very good diagnostic tool in handling situations with these themes. It shows us where and how we've been hurt in the past, and how we're likely to hurt others -- and how we can heal those hurts.
Short delineation

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Nessus: The buck stops here. The return of karma; situations that travel circular paths, or extend with unforeseen consequences. Conspiracy with a point of origin. The healing of abuse, including insidious kind that doesn't seem like much, until one looks closely; and the kind that was obviously so, but potentially overlooked. Now transiting into Aquarius in a conjunction with Chiron.

Conjunction with Chiron

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The first really fancy trick is that Chiron is now forming an close conjunction to another planet in its class, Nessus -- the third Centaur planet (discovered in 1993, and which reached Aquarius a few weeks ago). This reaches its most exact position the first week of May. My take is that this is a major, era-defining aspect that awakens the culture in some way. Aquarius is the sign of 'we the people' and Chiron brings significant awareness wherever it goes. Nessus comes with the theme, 'the buck stops here', and is always quite willing to point out the psychological darkness on the planet -- and give us the tools to heal it. So, as I see it, the buck stops with we the people. We can expect to see, and partake in, some resistance to the many shenanigans perpetuated by the so-called leaders holding office in the Western world. By August, both planets will have retrograded back into Capricorn, where they remain in a close conjunction, giving us one last fabulous hurrah for the Chiron in Capricorn ('post 9/11') era.
The next impressive move that Chiron is making is that when it goes into Aquarius and stations in an exact conjunction with Nessus, it's making an exact square (or 90 degree angle) to its discovery position. This is to say that Chiron was discovered in the 4th degree of Taurus in 1977. Now, it reaches the 4th degree of Aquarius, along with Nessus. Taurus and Aquarius are fixed signs, so that means we get a square aspect. So we have a landmark moment in the history of Chiron itself, and its place in our minds, our development and our astrology. In the story of one's Chiron transits, the square is usually a big moment.
Aquarius conjunction -- Patterns in Communities

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Chiron conjunct Nessus in Aquarius. In 2006 we will experience the second of two exact passes of this aspect, and a third, which is a near miss. The first exact pass was May 13, 2005. The second will be Jan. 10, 2006. The third (the near miss) is Oct. 10, 2006. This is an aspect that will be igniting the Aquarius energy of what you might call "awareness to the people," setting a pattern that will last for many years. Aquarius is about communities, the culture, the Internet, group responsibilities and group agreements. It is about the politics of the tribe and where the individual fits in. We all bear wounds involving fitting in, and are under a lot of pressure to do so. With Centaur activity raking up residence in Aquarius, now is the time to address them by name, and to go beyond them.
With many turning point events like this, the choice of what do and where to go is often a choice of what level you want to park your awareness on. There is often a level of chaos and discord, and another level above the battleground. To be at home on this level, it's necessary to focus on your most clear sense of self that sees itself in more or less equal relationship to others.
Generation-defining conjunction

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7. The ongoing conjunction of Chiron and Nessus in Capricorn/Aquarius, which was exact for the first time in May (in Aquarius) and which is now retrograding into the last degree of Capricorn. This is a generation defining conjunction, and one that no living person has ever experienced. Notably, this conjunction, between two of the earliest known Centaur planets (Chiron, the first, and Nessus, the third), occurred exactly -- exactly to the degree -- with Chiron square of the discovery degree of Chiron. This process, looking just at Chiron, could also be summed up differently as "the transition of Chiron in to Aquarius" for the first time in about 44 years. Search Google for timelines of the late 1950s and early 1960s and see what you learn...clue: Chiron left Aquarius and entered Pisces the last time on the day after John F. Kennedy was inaugurated. Movements of this planet help define historical eras.
Revealing the abuse legacy

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Nessus, a centaur planet, can spill the beans on the abuse legacy we carry, both psychological and physical. It reveal the psychological dynamics of that abuse process, as well as telling us something about where it entered our reality (conjunct Mars, in the desire nature, for example; conjunct Saturn, as parental authority, and so on). Don't worry that you can't necessarily look up or interpret the meaning of the placement right away; just note its location and what it is doing (and welcome to the world of research astrology).
Patterns in family of origin

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The centaurs (Chiron-like bodies, including Pholus, Nessus, Asbolus, Chariklo, and Hylonome) talk about transformation processes, healing processes, as well as psychological tools we use to get through life. For example, Asbolus talks about how we handle extremes of adversity and danger as children. Nessus talks about abuse patterns in the family of origin, and how they manifest psychologically in adults.
Involved with Saturn opposition

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The forthcoming Saturn in Leo phase has at least two distinctions involving the outer planets: the first is that it begins next week with an exact opposition to Chiron and Nessus in Aquarius; the second is that it peaks in August 2006 through June 2007 with a series of oppositions to Neptune in Aquarius (the astrological opiate of the masses). This is a big distinction, because the Saturn-Neptune cycle is one of history's most important clocks to watch. It is, in essence, about the tense relationship between reality and fantasy; between concrete knowledge and what we take on faith; between the tangible world and the imagination.
Awakening and Aquarius

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Notice (in the computer-drawn part of the chart) that Chiron and Saturn are close to the horizontal line and are the most prominent planets in the chart as a result. Chiron (on the left side, just below the horizontal line) is actually in a conjunction, with another planet in its class, called Nessus, which I've drawn in right below Chiron, in blue ink. These two planets have been close together for months, and make their first exact conjunction in many decades in the early Spring of 2005, and this will be memorable, to say the least. To me, this represents the awakening of the people to what is happening.
Centaurs as accelerators

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The named Centaurs began with Chiron, discovered in 1977; then came Pholus in 1992, and Nessus in 1993. They are all intense, they accelerate the action of the chart, and will get in your face till you notice what they are saying.

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