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February 23rd, 2009

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 in some situations it speaks to the conclusion of the karmic cycle involved: the truth revealed, the perpetrator caught, the situation resolved, responsibility taken.

Planet Waves
Abduction of Deianira (1617-21). Painting by Guido Reni.

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.

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Eclipses work like minor planets

February 8th, 2009

Being a somewhat overbusy with this eclipse making everything seem to be due at once, I’m going offer one short, useful idea about eclipses. They tend to function as planetary points. I find this is particularly true with Solar eclipses; I’ve never actually noticed it with lunar eclipses, but it may be from the lack of looking.

Most astrologers are familiar with the lunar nodes. The nodes are associated with eclipses because they tell us approximately where the next and most recent ones will happen or happened. That’s just about their whole job, from a technical standpoint, though they point to one fact — eclipses have effects long before and after the actual event. Most astrologers would agree that eclipses have observable effects for six months, though some have influence that can linger for years.

The way to test this is to memorize the positions of important solar eclipses (Aug. 11, 1999 at 18_ Leo or June 21, 2001 at 0+ Cancer), to give two examples) and notice the synchronicities of what occurs when those degrees of the zodiac are activated. Those are two that tend to linger; you can use more recent ones as well. The most recent solar eclipse as of this writing was at 6+ Aquarius. You can add that degree into any chart and count it as a minor planet. Transiting aspects to that point will count, and any planet that the event has touched (such as by conjunction) may be especially sensitive for a while.

Keep in mind that eclipses are about making progress and establishing new patterns, so if you look at the event in that context, it may seem and in fact actually be friendlier to work with.

Eclipses in the future can also be worked with. If you see that you or a client is having an eclipses (for example) on the midheaven, you can plan a career move for around that time and be working with the natural forces of nature instead of against them. Notice them; notice any chart where an eclipses is in the vicinity. That means any chart where the Sun is close to one of the lunar nodes; you can be sure that there is or was an eclipse within around two weeks vicinity.

Another very useful thing to do is study the eclipses that came immediately before you were born. Use your place of birth, or that of your client, and use the time of the eclipse out of the ephemeris. You can consider these secondary birth charts. If an eclipse occurred shortly after you were born, say, within one month, those will be potentially helpful charts to look at as well, those properly those would fall under the larger heading “progressions” which I will get into in another place and time.

I will be back with Chariklo next week.

Arachne: The webs we weave

February 1st, 2009

I wrote once that Arachne was about conspiracies, but not the Watergate kind. It’s one of those asteroids used mainly for adding detail to a story. When I’m working with a client and he or she starts to tell a story involving gossip, a plot of any kind, or some situation where many facets seem to be interwoven, I immediately add Arachne to the chart. It has a distinct feeling of interconnectedness. The glyph the graphic representation of a spiderweb.

By the way, that’s one technique for working the minor planets. You don’t use all of them in any one chart, just like a repair person won’t use all of his or her tools for one job. Apart from the basics and the ones that speak to you very dependably, you can add asteroids and other minor planets to the chart as the theme arises. For example, as I listen to the client describe their situation, they might describe something pride, so I’ll add Hybris. They might mention something about people who cling to their beliefs for convenience, I’ll look at Borasisi. They might start describing how their father owned a large company and I’ll look at Industria. When they start taking about three generations and/or addiction patterns, I will study Pholus.

I add Arachne to the chart when I hear someone describing situations hat seem to involve a tangled web. When I detect paranoia, or people acting in concert, I’ll add Arachne. This will not necessarily tell the whole story, but it can give you insight into the functioning of certain other planets that contact Arachne, and which might be implicated in the conspiracy. For example, if the client is a woman and describes her love life as a big conspiracy, you might see Arachne conjunct Venus.

Just for fun a moment ago, I cast the Watergate chart (the arrests were 2:30 am on June 17, 1972 in Washington DC, as documented in the Washington Post). And what we find is Arachne conjunct Osiris — a conspiracy in a lot of little pieces. So look to Arachne to reveal something about the nature of a conspiracy when you’re dealing with one of those, which will be frequently enough in a moderately busy astrology practice; just about everything is based on a conspiracy.

But more to the point, we tell ourselves stories; our whole lives are made of stories, and Arachne will give you a clue as to their nature; where they might manifest; and the relationship to the larger forces involved. We often seem to be caught in our own internal webs of deceit, the stories we tell one another, and the stories of others into which we get ensnared. But mostly they are the stories we tell ourselves.

Arachne is a mortal who was turned into a spider, in the cycle of myths involving weaving of stories, and hence of the universe. There is a morality play in her relationship with Minerva, which again involves challenging one of the gods and thinking oneself better than they (a common sub-cycle of myths, and the human just about always loses the contest in some significant way). I will skip the story, but Minerva turned Arachne to a spider.

I’ve noticed that there are people who seem to attract spiders to them. These are the people whom spiders find in shopping malls, in the car, or sitting in a restaurant. Usually you will find them in denial of their story; in denial that they are the ones writing the story of their lives. Give Arachne a close look in their chart, and call on the great Spider to protect them.

Sappho: About Lesbianism?

January 25th, 2009

Sappho represents a frequently misunderstood kind of affection: equality and mutual respect with or without the involvement of sex. The Greek word, agape (pronounced a-ga-pay), or brotherly love, is only a partial fit. There are times that sapphic love can go only one way, and in a sense be unrequited; and there are times when it stands for the union of massive numbers of people. Sappho was one of the most elevated planets in the chart for the Sept. 11, 2001 incident, which temporarily brought people together and which was exploited for the purpose of supposed unity.


While the theme of “bringing people together” is useful and will work in almost any application of this asteroid, we can’t ignore the lesbianism angle, and the ambiguity associated with it. By this, I mean that lesbianism has an odd way of being invisible; of existing in fantasy (where you cannot see it unless someone tells you), and of existing on a continuum. In other words, all relationships among women have some element of lesbianism that may exist to a greater or lesser extent, or be more or less available; but it’s there if you look for it.

Sappho the historical figure was a Greek poet about whom little in the way of documented historical data is known for sure. She was born between 630 and 612 BC on the island of Lesbos, which is associated primarily with her and from which lesbianism gets its name. All the stories you hear about her, except that she was a female poet who wrote of poignant longing for other women, are often questioned as fast as you learn about them. Was she a teacher? Did she have sex with the young women she mentored, or was she in love with them?

While you will not read in many places that Sappho is not specifically associated with the lesbianism that the glyph and her home island might connote to some, I have seen this point prominent in the charts of lesbians and I count it as a bellwether for how we experience female-female erotic and affectual bonding (no matter what gender or sexual orientation we are). It can be used to help delineate the client’s values toward homosexuality in any form, and to assess the prominence of their identification with homosexuality — their own or that of someone else.

I suggest never trying to use astrology to ascertain someone’s sexual orientation. You will discover that if you listen carefully enough. Rather, I suggest using it to look for clues, discussion points and the way people relate to the concept of homosexuality, something that is apparently more powerful than the thing itself. And though Sappho is somewhat famously described as being more appropriate for other subjects, I would propose that it tells us something significant about female homosexuality and homosexuality in general. A few chart examples will give you an idea.

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Achilles: Issues of False Confidence

January 18th, 2009

Achilles was one of the great Greek heroes of myth and legend. One of many students of Chiron who went on to deeds we talk about even today, the stories of his conquests, his leadership and most of all his handsomeness are legion. Therefore it would seem to be an odd planet to associate with issues of confidence, but if you factor in the Achilles heel — the vulnerable spot on the great warrior — you get a clue.

The delineation of Achilles, the Trojan asteroid, is not as straightforward as simply that; many minor planets have delineations that push and stretch the mythology, or which seem to bear no resemblance to it. Achilles orbits our Sun locked into an orbit with Jupiter. Jupiter is accompanied on either side, at about 60 degrees distance, by two clouds of asteroids called the Trojans. Achilles and Jupiter take just under 12 years to orbit the Sun once. Properly called (588) Achilles, it was discovered in 1906. It was the first of the Trojan asteroids to be discovered, by a German astronomer named Max Wolf.

I was first tipped off to the idea behind the asteroid Achilles about seven years ago by a reader on one of the minor planet lists, who said, “just check out this delineation and see if it works.” And that was: false confidence or false lack of confidence in women. She was specific: check the charts of women.

So, I started casting Achilles into nearly every client’s chart, and sure enough, I could spot something interesting about how the client handled their confidence. Whether they denied themselves confidence they deserved or had confidence that seemed to have no basis, Achilles was providing useful information about where to look for the source of the feeling. That is the point of working with the minor planets: and their delineations are good only as far as they provide information that can be applied in counseling or in reading historical charts.

Let’s skip the part about this planet applying primarily to women and look at Mr. False Confidence himself, George W. Bush. Let’s see if we can find the source of his bravado. Wouldn’t you know it — Achilles is one degree from his South Node, in Sagittarius. This guy is a professional; he is the embodiment of the archetype of false self confidence that emerges from that very Sagittarian theme of religion. I really don’t think he has any false lack of confidence, but you never know what’s going on deeper. I would imagine that if he lacks confidence, it’s the real thing.

In other words, if you have every reason to be confident, if you’ve accomplished great things and you still lack confidence, that is false lack of confidence. Mr. Bush does not qualify for this distinction. Indeed, it is difficult to find someone in the public sphere who does, since everyone is there because they exhibit either confidence or false confidence.

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Astraea: Justice Before Spirituality

January 3rd, 2009

According to the Greek tradition, Astraea was the last immortal to leave Earth. While mankind grew more wicked in its ways, the gods one by one retreated to Olympus, yet Astraea stayed. She became immortalized in the constellation Virgo; the scales she held became the sign Libra. She is depicted as the incarnation of Justice on the tarot card by the same name.


Astraea, the 5th asteroid ever discovered, was something of a harbinger. After Vesta, the 4th asteroid (who represents the core creative fire and the goddess of the hearth and home) was discovered in 1807, there were no asteroid discoveries, or planetary discoveries, for another 38 years. (Science had only discovered one planet by that point, Uranus, in 1781, and the first four asteroids). Finally after this long delay, asteroid Astraea arrived in 1845.

Then Neptune was discovered less than one year later, vastly expanding the known size of our solar system, and adding the crucial theme of water. As astrologers worked with the Neptune archetype, it became involved with the numinous: less about water in the form of emotions and more about the psychic mists that permeate all of life; with the sensibilities of art and music; with telepathy and telempathy, the ability to feel others at a distance. It is considered the planet of the higher spitirual orders of realty, though on Earth it manifests more often as deception, delusion, drink and drugs.

Neptune’s discovery story is interesting is because like Uranus only to a more dramatic degree, this planet was seen over and over again but no astronomer recorded its existence as a planet until 1846. Even Galileo recorded it in his notebook that incredible winter of 1612-1613 as a fixed star.

Hence, the discovery of Astraea predicted the discovery of Neptune. Had there been asteroid discoveries every week as there are now, we might not be able to say something like that. But if there is a 38-year gap in all discoveries and then something like Neptune follows an asteroid by less than a year, the two are eminently connected. You could say that Astraea stands for “No justice, no spirituality. You cannot have one without the other.”

Astraea does not necessarily bestow a sense of right and wrong, but it seems to offer a reasoning process; a sense of balance. Whether someone or something is balanced to your liking is one thing, though you can look to Astraea for what that sense of balance might be, and where it might suspend in the person’s life.

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