We’re in an unusual moment of two conjunctions to centaur planets in the same week. Today, Mars is conjunct Chiron in Pisces for the first time in nearly 50 years, and Thursday, the Sun is conjunct Nessus in Aquarius. The Sun and Mars are masculine or yang factors in astrology; both describe transformation processes and, because they are so different, there’s palpable tension between them.
To me, these events describe two ends of a spectrum of experience. They both involve centaur planets, which by their nature transgress boundaries — they cross the orbits of larger planets, though their orbits are controlled by those larger planets. I see their action as a necessary pressure vent, agents of change or something that points out what is otherwise difficult to see.
Let’s consider Sun-Nessus in Aquarius first. This one has been brewing for a while, and Sunday morning’s New Moon brought it into focus. Nessus in Aquarius describes the shadow side of that sign, which is about conformity. We say it’s about groups, but groups by their nature are about belonging, and where there’s an in-group you can be sure there’s an out-group. Collections of people have certain patterns that create these situations, some of which are visible, but most often to outsiders.
This is less about the nature of Aquarius itself and more about the nature of what it describes — the ways that social patterns develop. Sun-Nessus is on one level an invitation to see how groups of perfectly reasonable individuals can do perfectly heinous things, with one another’s support, and when they are willing to give their power to a collective. When you see one person after another get up onto the witness stand or go before Congress or get on television and lie about their motives and their actions, that’s what you’re seeing in action.
One example of this is when not one person in the media will break consensus — for example, it seems like everyone but people on TV knows there’s a problem with the official story of 9/11. But the talking heads keep a straight face and go on to the next story.
Often this happens with sexual abuse: groups go along with these incidents, for a wide diversity of reasons, usually to protect the group in some way (the atrocities at Penn State are an example of this). The coverup serves the purposes of the group, though it can hurt injured individuals even more than the initial event. The reputation of the campus is protected.
The purposes of some individuals are served because they get to stay in the group, if they shut up and don’t make a fuss. This is how you can have reports of priests sexually abusing children for 60 years before there is some collective admission; before there is some actual change. And many observers will keep their ‘faith’ and never give up. The late infamous Father Murphy of Wisconsin still has his devoted followers.
Individuals have specific and deep-seated psychological reasons for keeping their silence as well. It’s terrifying to call out a whole group, especially if you have a clue how you might be treated. Aquarius contains both inclusion and the terror of exclusion, which in tribal times was a fate worse than death. In the mind of a child, the leaders of the family are supreme, and a child can easily fear that without the approval of the adults, they could be out in the cold, where they can freeze and starve.
Yet throughout history there are people who do face the potential consequences and speak up for what they believe, or about what they witness. They somehow preserve their individuality enough to see themselves as distinct from the group, or at least to see the group mind for what it is. They are often considered a little weird — anyone who actually does their own thing is. And you can be sure they hear plenty of “Why don’t you just give up and go along with what’s happening?” (You can’t fight City Hall — there’s a reason for that and everyone knows it.)
The person who just might fight City Hall might have a Mars-Chiron contact. The conjunction stands out as the ‘take no bullshit’ placement. We’re now experiencing the conjunction, so one way or another we’re all getting a taste of what it represents.
Chiron is one of the most potent influences of individualism. It’s about standing apart. The first keyword for Chiron was given by its discoverer, Charles Kowal, who said: “This thing is a maverick” — independent minded and individualistic. The term also refers to unbranded cattle, that is to say, those with no clear claim of ownership.
Where you have Chiron in your chart, you will want to stand out. When you have Chiron strong in your chart you will have little choice but to stand out, to rebel, to refuse to do what is expected because it’s expected. If something is right (in your view), that’s one thing, though you’re not going to go along just because you’re expected to. Often, these are the places we carry injuries from having tried to rebel, but having failed.
When you add Mars to the mix, that brings in the energy of the warrior. It can manifest many ways, though I would say that the Mars-Chiron conjunction is at its essence about the refusal to conform for its own sake — which opens the potential to do something brave, original and probably difficult. Bill Moyers, John Dewey, Dorothy Parker, Fidel Castro, Benjamin Franklin, Joyce Carol Oates, Charles Lindburgh, Paul Newman, William Penn, Ross Perot and Queen Mary all come up on the natal chart search for this aspect. It’s the spirit of the authentic gadfly, the person who can see beyond their own personal interests and into the interests of something larger — and take initiative and act on what they know.
If you want to break free of the thrall of the group, or group think, Mars-Chiron is the thing to work with. It’s a kind of extreme individualism, but not for its own sake — always for a purpose. For most other people, standing out like that is terrifying. The people who do this might be a little scary, but we almost always respect them for their willingness to speak up for what we all know is right — often respecting their persistence even when we disagree with them.
Between Sun-Nessus and Mars-Chiron is a bold thin line — sometimes impossible to see but daunting to think of crossing. Yet sooner or later, everyone has their chance, their opportunity, their moment of necessity. It almost always comes when actual collective interests come into play rather than those that would support the elite or the in-group. And this is where we stand today.
Note, I’ve covered this aspect combination for you in this week’s sign interpretations (including all the signs and rising signs), and I will have more to say in Friday’s new interpretations — which are sent to our site members.