Backstreets of the Psyche

Dear Friend and Reader:

Sunday’s Aquarius New Moon is the next event highlighting a centaur planet — there have been several the past few weeks. Many others are on the way over the next week or so, and from what I can tell, many people are feeling something but they don’t know what.

Someone walking in the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem at night. Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons.

The edginess, the sense of a critical personal turning point, the feeling of material coming up for healing — all of these are on the centaur wavelength.

You may be noticing a need to address the things you or others typically avoid; subjects you’ve tried to work through many times may be coming up for attention yet again.

White there is a tendency to pathologize or have negative associations with these planets, they often manifest as extra depth, passion or intensity. The common sensation is a kind of edgy unfamiliarity to the territory — great for creative expression, if you can focus. Centaur awareness can be a little overwhelming — it can seem like there’s so much to do, you’ll never get it done. But if you set your intentions and devote yourself, eventually you will.

The moment you notice you want to take action or make a change is the time to start, or to re-dedicate yourself, to something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, or have been delayed in doing. This New Moon is like a crossroads and for many reasons, what you set into action now has a good chance of gaining momentum. I would however offer one caution: If you’re feeling any negative impact from this astrology, do your best not to identify with your sense of loss or of being hurt. Identify rather with the healer, the creator, the initiator. Shifting from one side of the equation to the other may be that simple.

Before I describe the astrology in more detail, here’s some background on the centaurs: what makes them centaurs is that they’re small bodies in our solar system that cross the orbits of the major planets. Think of these strange orbits where the centaurs lead us as back alleys of the psyche, slipping between the more familiar avenues. Anyone who has traveled outside the United States knows that when you leave the main boulevards, that’s where you find the truly interesting places and people — tucked in amongst the shadows.

For example, Chiron weaves inside the orbit of Saturn, and extends almost out to Uranus. As such it helps us negotiate between stability and change, between the old and the new. Pholus at its closest comes closer to the Sun than Saturn, and at its most distant goes beyond Pluto. Nessus at its closest comes closer to the Sun than Uranus, and at its most distant goes well past Neptune. These second two centaurs have a way of bringing what is usually invisible into plain view.

Centaurs take astrology deeper than the level of personality, into the realm of the soul. Chiron was the first in this group, discovered orbiting our Sun in 1977. It became associated with the healing process, raising awareness and what some call ‘human potential’. Note that since its discovery, there has been a proliferation of hands-on healing, a healthy food movement and other forms of holistic thinking. Many astrologers still don’t use Chiron, though the entire field has been advanced by those who write about it. It is largely thanks to Chiron that astrology is now even vaguely considered to be among the healing arts.

Side alley, Mykonos, Greece. Photo by Eric Francis.

The second-discovered centaur was Pholus, in 1992. This brought in the themes of multigenerational experiences, the ‘small cause with the big effect’, and the runaway reaction. Pholus addresses alcohol and addiction as well. The third was Nessus, discovered in 1993, which deals with the cycles of karma and the place where one person takes responsibility for something wrong that has gone on for a long time. Nessus covers potentially inappropriate sexual contact, its legacy and what to do about these things.

Once you enter centaur territory, you leave the astrological tourists to their personality-level sightseeing and encounter the strange, compelling, at times necessary spaces of the mind. They live in the zones in the psyche where we carry ancestral, karmic and early-life issues.

There can be material present with overlapping themes — power and sex, injuries that result from a mix of intent, ignorance and neglect, or struggles that involve both social pressures and self-esteem. Centaurs can embody persistently difficult aspects of our lives; they can represent places where you put the most emphasis, and as a result, often concentrate awareness, talent and a sense of purpose — even though you might feel like you’ve made the least progress in those areas.

When using centaur planets, you reach the deeper levels of injury, struggle and therefore potential healing. It takes courage to go there, unless of course you discover you have no choice, which is right about where we are now. Part of the reason for that is because smaller, faster-moving planets such as the Sun and Mars are making contact with centaurs, which brings them into focus.

There’s a reason these planets are not especially popular in astrology, and why you’re not reading about them in most (or any) other places. Once the centaurs go into the chart, it’s easy for the astrologer to get in over his or her head. However, there are currently transits developing involving all three of the first centaurs, Chiron, Nessus and Pholus. In this article I’ll cover Chiron and Nessus and leave Pholus for another time.

Many Nessus Events in Early 2013

Nessus takes a bit over 121 years to go around the Sun, so it’s a slow mover, and for now it’s in Aquarius (where it’s been since around 2005). If you recall, two weeks ago Mars was conjunct Nessus, and last weekend Mercury was conjunct Nessus.

An old street in Yangmei, a traditional town located on the Yong River in Nanning, Guangxi, China. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday at 2:20 am EST, there is an unusual New Moon in Aquarius. The Sun and Moon are close to Nessus for this event, which is the first salient point. The New Moon is also square the lunar nodes — those things that point to the eclipses. The square means that we’re halfway between the eclipses of last (Northern Hemisphere) autumn and the ones of spring.

One image of the square to the nodes is seeing something that’s so obvious, it’s usually invisible. Another is a kind of spiritual toll booth through which you have to pass in order to get where you’re going. These properties also give the New Moon the feeling of an eclipse — a point of no return. This one may feel like a tipping point.

Given that it’s in Aquarius, it may involve the ways in which you respond to social pressure, including that of your family, your friends, the company you work for or any version of the public with which your life intersects.

Aquarius holds the often-challenging tension between conformity and individuality, though typically that tension is resolved by going along with the crowd. Nessus in Aquarius is presenting an ongoing point of crisis, as we figure out how dangerous it is to think along with the mob. It may work as a self-serving way of life for a while, but ultimately it contaminates everything. However, to care about this, you would need to access the part of yourself that’s not strictly self-serving.

The extent to which personal interest can cause problems for everyone was described in a new article in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi. He was reviewing a new book on the scandals of the bank bailouts, and how the Washington mentality led to a state of total corruption.

He wrote, “It’s a bizarre, almost tribal mentality that rules our capital city — a kind of groupthink that makes extreme myopia and a willingness to ignore the tribe’s ostensible connection to the people who elected them a condition for social advancement within.” In other words, to succeed, it’s necessary to show your bosses and colleagues that in order to fit in, you’re willing to betray the public you were elected or appointed to serve.

The bottom of Rue Mouffetard, set in one of the oldest neighborhoods of Paris. Photo by Eric Francis.

“Most normal people don’t get to see what that place is like, because most of the rearview-mirror accounts of that world are written by people who somewhere along the line became infected by the Beltway disease,” Taibbi continued. “Only a few true outsiders make it out alive, and only a few of those write books.” In other words, the situation is so bad and the brainwashing so thorough that we don’t even hear about it.

To some extent, we all must confront this. It’s the individual surrendering power to the group, and the group taking power over everyone else. If you want an explanation for how the Nazis or Monsanto have influenced so many people, now you have a model. And if you’re looking to break free from this, you may have some distinct opportunities; you’ve been having them for a while.

There are three more Nessus events coming up — the Moon exactly conjunct Nessus on Sunday, the Sun exactly conjunct Nessus on Feb. 14, and then Venus conjunct Nessus on Feb. 22.

Conjunctions to Chiron

Chiron, the first centaur, is in early Pisces. This is providing both a spiritual crisis (in the style of Pisces) and a point of grounding (in the spirit of Chiron). Chiron in Pisces is a time to focus your inner orientation. Pisces is a reminder to balance the extroversion and activity of daily life with respect for your inner space, and your inner source of strength.

Our lives are usually so other-centered, activity-focused and socially involved that it’s possible to forget that you have an inner life. Many people have not even discovered this fact, or have momentarily but are afraid to return. Chiron in Pisces is presenting a constant, dependable call to look and feel within. It’s a reminder to have some solitary time every day if possible, and to honor your creative process.

An old street with arches, near Agiou Fanouriou street, in Rhodes, Greece. Photo: Wikimedia.

If you don’t have one — if there is not something you can dependably do that helps you focus inwardly, process your experience and create something new — I suggest you find something that suits you.

As planets pass through late Aquarius, they enter Pisces, so each of these bodies that makes a conjunction to Nessus is now about to make one to Chiron. Neptune is also in the neighborhood, which is adding a mix of inspiration and denial. Chiron’s role is to focus inspiration into action and the denial into awareness.

At the moment of Sunday’s New Moon, Mercury and Mars are both very close to Chiron, as this triple conjunction comes into focus. One peak is on Monday, Feb. 11, when the Moon passes through early Pisces. Then Mars makes its exact conjunction to Chiron on Tuesday. When inner planets such as Mars and Mercury make contact with something more distant or subtle like Chiron, the result can bring whatever Chiron represents out of the background and into the forefront.

On the most basic level, this astrology is going to stir up emotional material; these are deep-feeling days, and depending on how they influence your chart, you will be called to pay attention to your actual needs rather than immediate gratification.

To some, this will feel like a spiritual crisis: that is, something relating to existence itself. Because Mars is involved, this can be a struggle to figure out what you want. You might be experiencing some movement related to your sexuality, as Mars-Chiron can indicate this potential. The question will likely surround your relationship to your desire nature.

While this is happening, Mercury conjunct Chiron implies seeing your relationship to your self-doubt. Mercury to Chiron can be the feeling of ‘knowing but not knowing’ or ‘being certain but not really sure’. This really is about your relationship to your intuition, your instincts and how they influence your mind. Pisces is calling you to focus inwardly for long enough to know what is really true for you. The message is to identify with your feelings and your body as much as your ‘self-image’ and your thoughts. In fact this group of Chiron aspects may present a serious challenge to your whole concept of ‘self-image’.

The questions being raised by these aspects take you beyond the ordinary and the familiar — as will the answers and the solutions. Remember that; and remember that the energy, love and focus that you invest now are worth more, because they will reach a deeper place within you.


Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 #937 | By Eric Francis

Aquarius Birthdays This Week

If you have a birthday anywhere in the vicinity, you know this is a tipping-point moment for you, a point of no return. You may be reconsidering very nearly everything — including the direction of your life and where you want to go from here. Do not be distracted by any dark or fearful ideas you may have about yourself.

They are not actually you, and their deeper source is more like ancestral baggage than it is some active experience or behavior. Access your passion and your desire for beauty in all its forms and you will provide yourself with a new basis for living, a new point of contact with yourself and the experience of authentic meaning. You are, in truth, being drawn to a much larger idea of who you are, and being invited to participate in the world in much deeper ways than you ever have before.

I recognize from your charts that you may have your moments of doubt and insecurity — just like children, just like the greatest artists, just like everyone. They may manifest in a form that seems larger than life, though that’s merely a reflection of your true creative power. Go past the doubt; go beyond needing a reason not to doubt, and simply dare to be who you are.

Aries (March 20-April 19) — In the cosmic scheme, your sign is the one designed to be about assertion and action. With Mars currently in Pisces, life may not be presenting you with clear direction; you seem to be lacking a tangible sense of where you are at the moment. This is an invitation inward. Yes, there are other influences that are heightening your desire for social contact, though I suggest you ask yourself whether these are offering you what you want, or presenting a distraction or worse, a source of needless drama. You may have the sense that you’ll find someone you want, someone you’ve been looking for, ‘out there somewhere’, though I suggest you question that theory at least long enough to see whether the one you’re looking for isn’t right inside you. One other point to consider this week: this is a time of completions rather than of beginnings. Yes, there’s a New Moon coming up — which you could say initiates a time of closure and resolution that extends from now until your birthday.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You may be wondering how you’re going to handle all this responsibility; your astrology answers that in two words: organization and cooperation. The first word implies the second — an organization is a cooperative enterprise. If you feel like you’re pushing against something immovable, it will help if you invoke the collective mind and develop new ideas. This may not be straightforward, and you will need to be in a coordinating role. What you need to be doing is keeping track of all of the ideas and variables surrounding a particular seemingly intractable situation, and see the whole picture in composite rather than fixating on any small piece of it. From there, it will become clear that certain ideas are more useful than others. Make sure you evaluate the impact of every option. The law of unintended consequences is in full force and effect. Therefore, you need to think in multiple dimensions and anticipate the problems that any potential solution might create — and change course sooner rather than later.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Many factors are trying to call your attention to the ways in which it’s time to take control of your life. This is not going to be instantaneous, nor should it take ‘forever’. While you may be inclined to think you want to get your career in order, the matter at hand is much larger. This is about taking back authority over all of your affairs, though to do that, you will need to see the places where you’ve given up that authority, or had it taken from you — beginning with your parents. Along the way, you may vacillate between thinking you’re a force to be reckoned with and fearing that you have no power whatsoever. Both are distortions. You tend to think in absolutes; in this instance, seeing shades of gray and different hues of color will help you. I suggest you plan for a rethinking process as you make each decision. You will not be arriving at final destinations; stop first and see where you are and how it feels to be there. Then decide what to do next.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — There are those days when we seem to live in a world of the self-centered and superficial. It’s frustrating if you’re one of those people who practices self-awareness, because a little goes a long way, though it comes at a cost. And what cost would that be? Well, self-awareness is the antidote for hypocrisy, and not being a hypocrite puts one at a voluntary disadvantage. Anyway, for the moment, you will be encountering some people who cannot see past their own self-interest, and it will help immensely if you recognize them for who they are. You should have the information you need to sort this out fairly quickly after you meet someone. You then will have the option to forget what you discovered, or put the information to work. If someone is not interested in anyone or anything besides themselves, as evidenced primarily by their actions, then you cannot logically expect them to be of any help to you. This is not an accident; it’s a way of life, and I’m here to tell you that you have a different agenda.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — This weekend’s New Moon is encouraging you to see the widest possible picture; to think systemically. I suggest you do this as you solve every seemingly small, separate problem. Look up from what you’re doing and consider the total circumstance — the human as well as the technical; the psychological as well as the emotional. If you are noticing a world in crisis, it’s about the lack of faith in love, and the expectation of betrayal. The people around you need more emotional contact, though they may seem to be indicating otherwise. That contact doesn’t need to drain you, though there are several distinct stresses on your energy at the moment. Contact is just that — it starts with hello; with a basic acknowledgment of existence. It includes being somewhat consistent, even a bit persistent, making sure that others know that you care and that you have their best interests at heart. They may not seem appreciative, though I assure you that they are.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Certain relationship situations seem to be at a boiling point, and you may feel like people are transgressing your boundaries left, right and center. It’s up to you, therefore, to be the gatekeeper in your own life. The challenge here is about your emotional investment in those who might cross some line that you may not have clearly articulated. To speak up may feel like you’re betraying someone. This is a form of codependency not often called what it is, mainly because it’s considered normal behavior. It may be normal but it’s not helpful, particularly to you. I suggest that you get clear with yourself about what you want and don’t want. Then make sure that others know your position before they act on some other assumption. The key is before, not after, so I suggest that — though it might seem difficult — you get your situation sorted out. As for the betrayal piece, it’s not true — it’s a holdover from another era of your life. The only person you have to worry about betraying is yourself.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — In our society at our time in history, there is no aspect of sex that’s not touched or compromised by the abuse of trust or power. This is one reason why sexual situations typically become so complicated so fast. We can find ourselves involved with abuse survivors; we might find ourselves involved with perpetrators. Yet one of the core hypocrisies is that most of the time, we tend to see ourselves as neither. You can safely assume you’re somewhere in the system because you grew up in the midst of all of this. The typical way to deal with this situation is to ignore it, but you’re at the point where that’s no longer possible. The thing you may be feeling is that to confront this web of psychological and sexual intrigue, you have to take a chance — and if so, I would agree with that. All progress requires taking a chance. In this case, the chance is akin to H.G. Wells’ metaphor of how the one-eyed man in the land of the blind is considered crazy — because he can tell light from dark and night from day. It’s worth the risk.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Often the most interesting aspects of people can be found in the places they’ve been hurt. This is true whether they’ve dealt with the injury or not; it’s more convenient for everyone if they have. Hey, it’s more convenient for everyone if you have as well, and apropos of Scorpio, the question of the moment is where some aspect of ‘sexual’ intersects with some aspect of ‘spiritual’. Or more accurately, you’ll find it in the place where sexual has been ripped apart from spiritual. There is more in this split than you may recognize, since it’s actually about severing you from your creative power. It’s also about whether you have an inherent respect for life. Sex is not something to be consumed, tolerated or used as a bargaining chip. It’s the creative core of existence — and how you feel about sex is exactly how you feel about life. Therefore, I suggest you consider carefully how you feel about sex and why. This includes what you say and do not say, and why; what you do and don’t do, and why.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Sagittarius has one of the coolest and grooviest reputations of all the signs, though secretly, I believe this is one of the most reserved and even conservative signs of the zodiac. Part of this is how you tend to think — in fixed patterns and abstract ways rather than the tangible and the concrete. And those patterns and abstractions can easily get hung up on themselves. Every now and then you reach a point where you simply have to flex your mind in new directions. You might have to make a decision you’ve been avoiding until the last possible moment. You might have to face some unpleasant fact and then deal with it — and when these times come, you can be bold and decisive. That’s about where you are today. Sunday’s New Moon will help you go even deeper — you can address what we could call a systemic issue, some quality of how you tend to think all the time that you may not have given a name to yet. Now, it’s likely to be visible and in clear focus, to the point of being obvious.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — For both of the Saturn-ruled signs (yours and Aquarius), self-esteem is the issue of the season, though there are subtle shades of distinction in how that will manifest. For you, there seems to be a titanic struggle to let go of an idea about yourself that is not true, and which is not working to further the course of your life. You need to know what that idea is, so you can change your mind about it. It’s likely to be something that you’ve always taken for granted, and which was supported, or implanted, by the people who were around you when you were much younger. There is some element of what you had to say or do in order to have their approval, which may have included going along with things that violated your conscience. You’ve reached the place in your growth where you cannot persist in thinking or doing anything that goes against your ethics, and that seems to be the focus of the moment — and it may feel like a kind of squeeze point.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Have your persistent self-doubt and self-questioning actually gotten you anywhere? They may have, though not as far as you think, and even if so, whatever purpose it had now seems to be served. Get used to the idea that self-improvement doesn’t necessarily improve you. What does? Let’s see — it looks like your passion for beauty is both helpful and in full bloom right now. Beauty might come in any form of art or music, talents I would be surprised if you would hear any astrologer ascribe to your sign. However, we both know you deeply value them, though you may not have come as far as counting yourself in. I suggest you do that. There are spiritual and psychological approaches to growth and healing, and if you ask me most of them are getting pretty old. And then there is the creative approach, which is always new, and which is designed to get your whole brain thinking, feeling and growing.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — This is a moment of passion, drive and clarity for you. Yet on a deeper level, it’s a moment of authentic alchemy and some truly mysterious transitions. Mars and so many other planets in your sign might be a caution not to overdo things, though I would say you would be better advised to use this moment to focus your intentions and your plans and get into action — now. You know what you need to know, including about yourself; you’ve done all the sorting out you need to do. Therefore, act on what you want. Make the changes you need, and don’t let anyone stop you. You have some unusual mojo going at the moment. I would, however, remind you of its real source — your inner life. As I emphasized extensively in your annual reading, the two fish of Pisces are the introvert and the extravert. This is a moment of contact with the world, of asserting yourself and figuring out that there is room for you here. The other side of this is honoring your interior space, the space where nobody else can really meet you. That is the real source of your inspiration and momentum. If you want the best guidance and the real facts, meet yourself there regularly.

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