Originally published March 29, 2018 | Link to original
Dear Friend and Reader:
On April 17, Chiron will enter Aries — its first return to that sign since 1968-1977, an eventful era that left its mark on the world. Outer planet transits through signs tend to describe phases in history. During those particular years, Chiron was in the phase of its cycle prior to its own discovery, which took place in November 1977.
Chiron is almost always described first as an agent of healing. Aries is the sign of identity, and there are few places these days that need more love and positive attention.
Chiron will be arriving in Aries after seven years of Uranus in this sign, including the Uranus-Pluto square and the Uranus-Eris conjunction — an era that has manifested a pandemic of identity chaos and a corresponding destabilization of society on nearly every level.
Much of this has been induced by the dominance of the internet, which we think of as a torrent of information, yet which is better described as a collective out-of-body experience. To the extent we’re not aware of that fact, Chiron is likely to make it more obvious and easier to document.
We’re also experiencing the rise of robotics. That doesn’t mean R2D2 or little vacuum cleaners your cat rides around on: it means Facebook, Google, automated streaming music platforms and anything else that drives itself. These devices are teaching people how to think and behave like machines. It’s plausible that human thought patterns are approaching robotic ones faster than artificial intelligence is approaching human capabilities.
Regarding identity, it’s easy to envision Chiron in Aries peeling off the crust of self-concept and pretension and guiding matters closer to an experience of actual self. This can be liberating, and will be for many people. It can also be frightening and profoundly disorienting, especially for those who have invested most or all of their identity into the internet, or into a concept of themselves that has not been tested through experience.
As an agent of healing, Chiron works first through raising awareness of matters that need to be addressed. At such a time there will often be solutions and remedies available. Though, as Adrienne Rich wrote at the dawn of the last Chiron in Aries era, “There are methods but we do not use them.”
Yet the point is, we can. We have access to knowledge — more of it than ever. We can make decisions. Most of the problems faced by humanity have already been solved. We might consider availing ourselves of the solutions that have been developed with so much devotion, love and effort.
Chiron has been in Pisces since 2010-2011, for about the past eight years. Chiron in Pisces began with a bang: the BP oil gusher into the Gulf of Mexico on the very day it first ingressed the sign of oceans; then the Fukushima quake and meltdowns (which corresponded, to the day, to Uranus leaving Pisces); and the many incredible events of 2011, including a series of protest movements (Arab Spring, the Wisconsin labor movement and Occupy Wall Street).
Now that we’re at the end of this cycle, we are witnessing the most impassioned social uprisings we’ve seen in many decades. There is an actual youth movement, as well as significant pushback on many of society’s most pressing issues. There are also some very serious problems we need to push back against. Chiron in Aries may provide just the spark: the idea, “What can one person do? I may as well try.”
The First Centaur: Technical and Historical Background
Chiron, as mentioned, enters Aries for the first time on April 17. Then it will briefly retrograde back into Pisces this September, and make its last station-direct in Pisces. It will take up residence in Aries in February 2019, where it will remain until transitioning into Taurus in 2026-2027.
A massive comet with some properties of an asteroid, Chiron has an elongated, elliptical orbit. It spends more time in Aries than any other sign; its aphelion, or most distant point from the Sun, is there. At the other end of the zodiac, it spends a mere 18 months in Libra (that’s the perihelion, or closest point to the Sun). It bears the dual astronomical designation of minor planet (2060) Chiron, and comet 95P/Chiron.
Soon after it was first discovered in 1977, by an astronomer named Charles Kowal, Chiron got a lot of attention from astrologers in the early years. This was unprecedented in modern astrology, and something we’ve yet to see repeated.
By the mid-1980s there were several excellent books published (which are still among the better resources available; I’ll include a list at the end of this article). Chiron was the first of what became the centaur class of bodies (generally, orbit crossers), the second of which was Pholus (discovered in 1992, now in early Capricorn, about to take a square from Chiron). Astronomers believe that Chiron was drawn in by gravity from the Kuiper Belt, the region of space occupied by Pluto, and has now settled into a much shorter period orbit than that of a Kuiper object (about 50 years as opposed to about 300 years).
Chiron spends most of its orbit outside that of Saturn and extends almost out to that of Uranus (illustrating this point, Chiron will spend more time in Aries than Uranus spends in any sign). Note that, as far as I understand it, Chiron crosses the orbit of Saturn on the Libra side, and grazes that of Uranus on the Aries side. This is what makes Chiron the “bridge between the inner and outer planets” (borrowing from the title of a popular book), as it has the capacity to be both. Or we might say that Chiron connects the visible with the invisible planets, though under the right conditions you can see Uranus without a telescope.
The Saturn-Uranus connection describes the dynamic quality of Chiron, which serves among other things to ground energy into matter and infuse energy with form. Some have observed that Chiron has its “uranian” side, and its “saturnian” side, though it almost always draws properties of both.
There’s so much conflicting, incomplete or incorrect information about Chiron on the internet that it helps to approach the topic with an open mind. With Chiron, direct experience is essential to understanding.
You’ll know you have an accurate sample of material to draw on when your experiences and collected tales are wildly diverse, representing the many modes of action seen associated with this body.
Important key concepts that are often left out of descriptions include mentorship, the maverick, the teacher’s teacher, hybrids of seemingly incompatible things, service and patience. However, because part of Chiron’s role is to point out, reveal or expose existing problems and flaws in any system or process, it doesn’t have such a good reputation among many astrologers.
Yet Chiron is not causing the problems; it’s bringing them to the surface so they can be healed. In revealing any underlying issues, Chiron’s presence will almost always point to an appropriate response, though it may not be convenient. And just because the issue is raised does not mean there will be a solution or much progress. That is a matter of choice. And currently there are many moving parts in operation. For example, the Chiron in Aries era will include the Pluto return of the United States, and the transiting aspect Pluto square Eris. We’re gonna need all the Chiron we can get.
The Last Time Around: 1968-1977
History is not necessarily the best teacher, though it’s helpful to be aware of it if we want to choose something different in the future. In that spirit, let’s review Chiron’s most recent visit to Aries. This spanned between early 1968 and early 1977, signifying a distinct phase of world history.
(Working with Dale O’Brien, who I quote a little later in this article, I’ve developed a sense of Chiron in Aries dating back to the American Revolution. The United States has Chiron in Aries; we will cover this in a future article.)
I associate Chiron in Pisces (1961-1969, then 2010-present) with the Beatles. You might think of Chiron in Aries as the post-Beatles Sixties — the dark and more obviously violent side. Yet there were interesting dynamics, such as individuality (“one small step for a man”) and a kind of collectivism (the Woodstock festival).
The events of 1968 were so stunning that when I was living in Paris in the mid-2000s, the phrase Soixante-huit! (Sixty-eight!) still invoked the revolutionary spirit.
There was a massive student movement in Mexico that year, which occurred during the run-up to the 1968 Summer Olympics — the one where two American medalists gave the Black Power salute. The Mexican protest movement (whose motto was “We don’t want the Olympics, we want revolution”) was violently crushed by the police.
It was also the year of the Tet Offensive, a particularly atrocious phase of the Vietnam War, and the My Lai Massacre, perhaps the single most horrid event of that war — which would rage on for another five years despite nonstop protests.
Chiron first entered Aries on April 1, 1968, and four days later, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, which in effect ended the Civil Rights movement. This came one year to the day after Dr. King linked the issues of racial oppression and the war in Vietnam. Just three months later, in June 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles, the night he won the California primary.
During Chiron in Aries, the Watergate scandal took place, as did the resignation of Pres. Richard M. Nixon (notably, Nixon was elected with Chiron retrograde in the last degree of Pisces). The Kent State massacre happened (along with shootings in Jackson and Buffalo). The Supreme Court issued many famous decisions, including Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the women the right to end pregnancies. The Stonewall incident in Greenwich Village in 1969 represented the beginning of the modern LGBT movement.
This was the era when identity politics emerged as the dominant force, something that persists to the current day. The closely unified anti-war movement of the mid-1960s (a direct outgrowth of the civil rights movement of the 1950s) began to fracture into a women’s movement, an environmental movement, a student movement, a peace movement, racial equality movements, and many others.
A New Age spiritual movement was born, which shunned both politics and sexuality, attempting to define itself with a kind of purist approach to existence. Right-wing politics began to define itself as anti-abortion, pro-guns and based on fundamentalist Christianity.
In essence, during the most recent Chiron in Aries period, the teams were chosen for the political games we are seeing played out today. Everything became a personal issue. Differences were emphasized over commonality.
The term “the personal is political” was coined by the radical feminist collective Redstockings during the phase when Chiron was close to the Aries Point around 1969 — the first degree of Aries that works as a crossroads between the individual and the collective.
“Identity” is an Aries concept, so it’s understandable that one result of Chiron in Aries would focus the issue in some hyperbolic ways. Yet what happened at the end of the 1960s was predictable: identity leading to separation. In the half-century since Chiron ingressed Aries, the left and right wings of American politics have become so polarized that they seem to agree on nothing except nonstop war.
Just in time for Chiron returning to Aries, we are suddenly seeing a shift in the political environment, in the form of people getting together, and previously separate movements joining forces. As one black student said during last weekend’s protest, we’ve emphasized differences for long enough. It’s time to emphasize what we have in common.
The Chiron-Mars Dynamic
Chiron in Aries resonates with Mars-Chiron aspects (Aries is ruled by Mars). With those aspects, there’s often a struggle between the impulse for aggression, and taking the ‘wise warrior’ approach to life and its challenges.
Marshall McLuhan, in his 1968 book War and Peace in the Global Village, proposed that all violence is a quest for identity, whether national, cultural, tribal or individual. Given the staggering identity crisis society is struggling through (related to the disembodied quality of the internet), we might have cause for concern about Chiron in Aries. And we have a proposed explanation for all the violence we’re already witnessing.
There are other ways to use Mars-Chiron dynamics for the purpose of self-discovery, which I’ll get into in the last section, on Chiron conjunct Salacia.
You might be familiar with the ‘wise warrior’ tradition through the work of the Tibetan master Chogyam Trungpa, in Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. “The key to warriorship and the first principle of Shambhala vision is not being afraid of who you are,” he wrote. “Ultimately, that is the definition of bravery: not being afraid of yourself.”
This would be an excellent bit of guidance to take on our Chiron in Aries journey. It would seem that the generation of young people who are taking on the NRA have this as a kind of silent credo.
He also wrote, “We must try to think beyond our homes, beyond the fire burning in the fireplace, beyond sending our children to school or getting to work in the morning. We must try to think how we can help this world. If we don’t help, nobody will. It is our turn to help the world.”
This suggestion applies to many people born in the 1980s who feel they are doing their activist work by raising chickens and laying low. After all, the world needs organic eggs. If that is driven by fear of coming forward with one’s politics, or the fear of confrontation, it won’t be an effective form of activism.
Wednesday night, I checked in with my old friend and colleague Dale O’Brien, someone I consider a pioneer of Chiron awareness.
“When Chiron enters a sign where other outer planets have recently been, he’s the triage doctor. Chiron coming behind Uranus and Eris presents an opportunity to bring wisdom to all the outrageous and terrible things that have happened,” he said.
“Chiron-Mars dynamics, which apply to Aries, are about being wise about the issue of war, and of the folly of going into war; the true courage to use no violence or minimal violence; or the fearful and cowardly who go to too much violence and aggression.”
Chiron in Aries is likely to “focus issues of courage versus cowardly violence. Going back to last time, in the late 1960s, it was the hawks and the doves. There was even a restaurant that opened on Capitol Hill called Hawks and Doves. The hawks tend to be those who don’t go to war but send people to war.”
We are seeing this dynamic played out today in young students standing up to the NRA and people obsessed with possessing military-grade weapons in civilian society — which are then used against civilians.
The war has come home, and the hawks and doves are trying to work out a compromise over the purported right to possess weapons of war.
“Martial arts and the sacred path of the warrior would be an appropriate yoga under Chiron-Aries conditions. The thing about the martial arts is that knowing you could fight means you don’t have to. The opposite is being afraid that violence could be imposed, therefore I need to resort to wimpy, cowardly violence. Who is doing this wisely, and who is doing the worst possible version of it?” he asked.
Comparing the conditions of Chiron in Pisces to those in Aries, he said, “With Chiron in Pisces, there’s compassion and empathy for unnecessary, widespread suffering and death. This is the prerequisite for the action taken with Chiron in Aries. With Chiron in Aries, there’s the feeling that we can do something about it, each individual taking a stand against incredible odds.”
But this must be peaceful action, he said. “Resorting to violence during Chiron in Aries makes it worse for the underdog who provokes things. To meet violence with violence when you’re the underdog is not wise.”
Chiron Conjunct Salacia in Aries
When we consider Chiron in the context of sexuality, we come closer to seeking identity through a means other than violence, which at the same time brings us closer to the ground of being. Wherever we may speculate humans or certain human tribes come from, whether Atlantis, Lemuria or the Pleiades, it is a fact that human life as we know it is created by sex.
Whether this is appealing to you or not, we are all fucked into existence. And all that follows from existence itself, from the atomic bomb to the electric guitar to a vegan banquet, is the result of that fucking. I recognize this is highly controversial — but the thoughtful question is: why?
This most basic biological truth leads to nearly all of the spiritual conflict propagated by religion. The denial of sex as a creative force leads to sex as a toxic and violent force, which in turn leads to a kind of death obsession and the impulse to kill. Given the choice between better sex with less murder, or less (or violent) sex with more murder, many people would have to stop and think about what they wanted.
This is the prevailing state of confusion today, particularly where sex is polarized by politics — a condition that dominates nearly all of sexuality, to the point where we forget what sex actually is: a deeply personal form of creative expression and sharing of intimacy.
Contemporary sex culture is dominated by identity. Today someone can say, “I identify as trans non-binary gender queer,” and that’s supposed to mean something. Yes, but what do you do? How does sex feel to you? Why do you want it? To respond to those questions requires going beyond identity, labels, jargon or self-concept, into the deeper ground of being. To go deeper requires vulnerability. These allegedly precise concepts would seem, on one level, to be a form of personality armor.
People also tend to identify with their sexual wounds, which often seem to never heal. Perhaps because there are methods, but we do not use them; perhaps it’s because the discussion of sex is so taboo, and the notion of sexual healing nearly nonexistent, outside of a political realm. Yet to heal from sexual trauma, it’s necessary to subtract the political realm and address what is deeply personal. This does not need to be done in isolation, though it’s not about “fighting the power.”
When Chiron enters Aries, it will be joining a slow-moving planet called Salacia, which made a spectacular appearance in 2017 and 2018 as it was conjunct the first degree of Aries — the Aries Point. We witnessed (and are witnessing) a good bit of sexuality come to the surface, most of it salacious, set in a corporate or political consciousness. We’ve evolved from Harvey Weinstein being its poster child to Stormy Daniels taking up the role of sexual culture-bearer.
Yet she is still an icon, a hero to some and a villain to others. This is the thing we need to get beyond: external identification with someone. We need to claim the matter of sex and sexuality first as personal property, and then as collective.
Claiming sexuality as one’s birthright, and as an essential factor in existence, is confrontational. It does not feel like blending in or becoming one of the crowd. Yet the confrontation is not really with the world: it’s with yourself. Initially, it’s about going beyond identity and self-concept and moving closer to core self.
The next layer may feel like sorting out whether one associates sex with toxicity, violence and death, or creativity, love and life. This would seem to be the most delicate personal choice. While it is not a political statement per se, observing that your sexuality is connected to the life force, and therefore all of life, is to stand out and be different. It is the choice to relate to life on entirely different terms from what we have pushed on us, whether by mainstream culture (which views women’s bodies and sexual imagery as a way to sell cars and liquor, and views actual sex as a fetish or perversion) or minority culture (which tends to view sexuality as a political statement, or a statement of wounding).
Many people put their sexuality on display, while claiming that it has nothing at all to do with sex (and how dare anyone think so). This is an approach-avoid tactic that is all about body shame.
There’s another way to experience sex and sexuality. My hunch is that as Chiron enters Aries and gradually works its way toward Salacia, the sanctimonious edifice of “sexual identity” and “sexual purity” will begin to crumble, and the real thing will be exposed. This will be happening in a time when many other forms of energy are being released, seemingly without the hint of ever stopping (Pholus in Capricorn is involved — a genie will be let out of the bottle).
While many will truly appreciate the opportunity for personal liberation, this will not all be sweetness and starlight. We’re going to need people who are unashamed, unabashed and who know themselves well, to serve as assistants for those who are ready to claim their trauma as their teacher, and their pleasure as their creative expression. Thankfully there are many who have been learning these skills quietly, in the background. It is now time to come forward: to take the risk of being known for what you know, and what you do.
Closer to the point is being entirely comfortable with your body and what it does and feels, and letting go of the toxic shame that has accumulated from generations of avoidance. There are aspects of this that must be done alone, and other aspects that can only be done together.
The bottom line here is learning how to trust and be vulnerable, which is a personal choice, and a personal quest. Though, if you tune in carefully, you may notice that there’s no other viable option.
PS — I consider the oldest books on Chiron to be the best. While most are written before additional centaurs were discovered, they provide a foundation for understanding Chiron that you must build on through direct experience. These books include The Continuing Discovery of Chiron by Erminie Lantero; Essence and Application: A View from Chiron by Zane Stein; Chiron and the Healing Journey by Melanie Reinhart; To The Edge and Beyond: Saturn, Chiron and the Centaurs by Melanie Reinhart (I consider this to be the best, with its inclusion of Saturn, Pholus and Nessus), and Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets by Barbara Hand Clow. Most are easily found in a used book search. Stein and Reinhart are available new as print on demand.
PPS — I have written enough about Chiron to fill a book or two. For a basic introduction to the minor planets, begin with this article in The Mountain Astrologer. Then you may visit a comprehensive resource gathering links to all of my articles in one place, lovingly compiled by Amy Blaschke.
PPPS — At the beginning of Uranus in Aries and Chiron in Pisces, I wrote an article called How to Cross an Ocean; How to Light a Fire.