Before and After Chiron

Light Bridge for Virgo and Virgo Rising

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There is a quality of rebellion in your charts this year, and though a form of that energy has been around for a while, you’re experiencing this in a much more focused way now. Indeed, focus is the overarching theme of your astrology now and for the foreseeable future. You might say this year is a practice run, but in truth it’s a lot more than that. You’ve arrived at what I will describe as a period of achievement, when your life is no longer about trying but about doing, and when your relationships are better described as experiences than experiments.

Langkawi Sky Bridge.

One of the indications you’re personally coming into focus is that you’re drawing to you people who are driven by purpose, discipline and soul. One of the most palpable shifts in your life involves who you’re choosing to be in relationship with. It might seem like a difference in who is showing up, but you have a greater hand in this process than you realize. The people who you meet now, and reaching even well past the foreseeable future, reflect something going on in you, and I’m here to tell you about how that process looks astrologically.

I will say at the outset that so much depends on your integrity. That is potentially a scary thought where we seem to have so many compromises. It may seem impossible in a world that so rarely feels like it’s built on a solid foundation. Yet discovering your integrity is precisely about standing firmly on the ground you occupy and working from there. You may have become accustomed to how you rarely think a thought without doubting it at the same time, but occupying your ground means being confident in what you know at the same time you reach for more knowledge. Holding space open for more learning is different from doubting yourself. Indeed, learning is based on feeling fairly confident that you will learn.

Mercury, Chiron and Purity

Virgo draws many of its attributes from the planet Mercury, the traditional ruling planet of your sign. When the basic concepts of traditional astrology were being worked out thousands of years ago, planets were used to deduce the meaning of the signs. So the planet that goes retrograde three times a year — the very inventor of the concept ‘two steps forward, one step back’ — initially provided many of the conventional ideas of Virgo. We have a mentally driven sign known for being highly intelligent and a bit nervous. It’s associated with ideas, messages and the solving of problems. And it tends to go back and forth; as one of the four signs on the mutable cross, that is natural enough.

Virgo chart.

It is also a human sign, sharing that distinction with Gemini and Aquarius. Though illustrated with an alleged virgin (in German, it’s Jungfrau, or young woman) it’s as androgynous as it is feminine. The virgin attribute is better known than the androgyny attribute, however, and this presents considerable psychological pressure to remain ‘pure’. You may reject knowledge, your own efforts and even people you care about on the basis of an alleged lack of purity. This is a good way to become neurotic in our inherently imperfect world, or to artificially set oneself against the world.

If we reach into the roots of this sign, the sensation of containing both male and female polarities is apparent. This is obviously different from one extreme polarity of female, particularly a virgin. Or it’s a kind of joke saying that within this concept of supposed purity, we contain the very thing that we purely are not.

One implication of androgyny is that Virgo is self-fertilizing, a phenomenon seen scattered throughout the natural world in both plants and some animals. Humans can be psychically self-fertilizing, but we tend to give up this attribute of our nature. We would be a lot better able to get ourselves going, except that we tend to pour an inordinate amount of energy into a certain kind of special relationship, and the search for that kind of relationship, that goes largely unquestioned.

Tantamount to torture, this ongoing search is often driven by a sense of incompleteness that I believe has its roots in our conditioned loss of the ability to access both our inner male and inner female polarities. We actually can do this; we might figure it out, if we weren’t having our clothing selected and nurseries decorated in the team color of our sex long before we were born. It would be easier to feel our natural balance if we weren’t being compelled to identify with Barbie or G.I. Joe dolls at age two, and having Cinderella tattooed into our brains.

Anyone who spends their life waiting for Prince Charming is going to face challenges making friends with their inner male attribute. Anyone who thinks that identifying with that curvy hot chick (rather than wanting to conquer her) makes you a fag, is going to have some challenges meeting and making friends with their inner female attribute.

We are, collectively, individually and as a world culture, ready to integrate our male and female attributes — or perhaps we’re arriving at the point where it’s necessary as a matter of survival. If we consider vicious, dysfunctional political partisanship a serious issue, and if we see the divisive nature of one religion pitted violently against another, we might want to consider the ultimate partisanship, the ridiculously unnatural division between the sexes. If any ‘controversy’ conceals that we are all humans facing the same conditions on the planet, that’s the one.

These divisions include the ongoing attempts of one sex to dominate the other, whether through overt means or subterfuge, whether in the personal sphere or the political. This is in turn a projection of our inner divide. A man is highly unlikely to want to conquer women if he’s in harmony with his inner feminine. A woman is unlikely to project rage or mistrust onto men if she’s in harmony with her inner male. However, many people you ask would tell you they have no idea what you’re talking about if you say inner male and inner female. If you have a clue that these things even exist, you’ve already come about half the distance.

I have come to believe that our most important healing mission is about reconciling our inner polarities; not blending them or losing them or forgetting they exist, but, at the least, knowing they’re there; having them be acquainted, and perhaps friends. If we could do this, we would see a calming down of unpleasant sexual tensions, homophobia, psychic projection and gender rage. We would, I believe, see the sexual politics that we take as an unpleasant given begin to settle down.

And this is just the alchemy that is coming into your life right now. We could describe the process of making friends with your inner other.

Introducing the Centaur

There is a male attribute of Virgo that has entered consciousness in the past generation or so. Not only is it male, it’s a hybrid of human and animal, and this attribute is taking center stage in your life right now.

Virgo minor planets.

In 1977, a small, unusual planet was discovered to be orbiting our Sun by an astronomer named Charles Kowal. This thing discovered by Kowal had attributes of several kinds of celestial bodies; it seemed to morph them all, so Kowal named it after the critter that is half-horse, half-human — the centaur. But of the many centaurs he could choose, he chose the oldest and wisest of the lot, a teacher, healer and mentor to a generation of heroes of classical Greece: Chiron.

Among astrologers, the initial curiosity generated by Chiron came with a burst of Virgoic study, research and intellectual passion. During that phase when people were willing to admit not knowing what Chiron was about, they learned a lot.

Many astrologers noticed Chiron described properties of Virgo not covered by Mercury, or for that matter, other descriptions of the sign: the high-focus intensity, a holistic quality, and a specific association with healing and the healing arts. Hermes, on whom Mercury is based, has a lot going for him; more than being the ‘messenger of the gods’, he is a towering figure in Western thought.

With Chiron, we get a practicing physician, surgeon and herbalist (specializing in battlefield medicine), as well as a teacher of the other arts of war. We meet an entity who is profoundly human, openly part animal and yet an immortal raised by none other than Apollo.

Mercury may wobble back and forth as we watch its orbit from our perspective on Earth, but that doesn’t entirely describe the specific dualism of Virgo; Chiron helps with that. For example, Chiron acts as a slow-moving outer planet for much of its orbit, and a fast-moving inner planet for the rest. Its influence can be deeply personal at certain times in its orbit, and broadly generational at others.

As Chiron was delineated, a new understanding of Virgo developed, which accounted for many of these properties. In a sense, the concept of Chiron is something that Virgo is gradually developing into. Chiron introduces a masculine energy to Virgo, and as Chiron was a teacher to a generation of the greatest warriors of the classical Greek era, we have the influence of a true warrior.

Beyond the Mirror: Chiron in Your 7th House

The 7th house in astrology is sometimes described as being in the zone of projection; at times it works like a mirror. For you this area is Pisces, the most watery water sign. Chiron has just arrived there to stay until 2018. When a planet is in your opposite sign, that means you will experience a high focus on that energy. When that planet in some way represents you personally, you get a phase when you’ll be doing deep personality integration. In mundane astrology, Chiron in the 7th can also represent the presence of a mentor or healer; and it can signify a time of deep transition in your relationships — though because your relationships have had this quality for a while, my sense is that if you’re transitioning into anything, it’s a state of purpose and focus.

Virgo ingress minor planets.

Chiron’s ingress into your 7th house comes just as an equally meaningful planet is exiting. That would be Uranus, the forward-thinking planet of revolution. Uranus has been present for seven years, so long that its influence became part of the seemingly permanent backdrop of your life. It was about anything but focus. Uranus can have an erratic, spontaneous energy that you are likely to have found was equally exciting as it was annoying. Yet whatever your opinion, you grew, changed and stretched your potential with this influence continually in your face.

The ‘exciting’ element came through your environment, whether in the diversity of people you met, groups you encountered, or unusual events that would never normally happen to you. I have the feeling that gradually you opened to these possibilities after initially resisting; your definition of weird shifted to accommodate people who were each a bit more unusual than the next. The annoying piece was about how challenging it seemed to hold anyone or anything for very long. Yet here is where the reality check comes in: where was that challenge really coming from? How consciously were you inviting encounters that were designed specifically to wake you up?

And through this time, how much easier would it have been if you made trust your first priority? How much easier would it have been if you recognized that your stability is something you need to cultivate all the time, instead of either living with constant fluctuation, or seeking grounding more often outside yourself than within?

Chiron’s influence is more your style, and represents the dawning of a stage of maturity. There is a focused intensity that is both compelling and challenging. Chiron is extremely grounded compared to Uranus, though it has a way of keeping you so focused you may want to zone out. You may decide that someone is ‘too intense’ or ‘too much’, which might be a way of saying you don’t like the things they’re making you aware of. I suggest that before you dismiss anyone, or anything specific that you’re told, you consider it carefully. The people you’re now encountering may be less inclined to wait for you to figure out that what they’re saying has a purpose and a value. If you reject good teaching or good information, you can expect certain advanced people to decide you’re not ready and move on. You’re definitely ready — so I suggest you give that impression, validated by your open mind.

One last shift associated with the Uranus-to-Chiron transition: Uranus can and often does indicate group affiliations. You may have become involved in organizations or groups (more or less formal) that are no longer consistent with your learning goals. Some may be outright distractions or directly counterproductive. Pay attention for signs that this is true. Choose your affiliations carefully. One-on-one encounters may be more than adequate to support the depth of inner growth you’re experiencing.

A Study in Boundaries

When Chiron arrives on the scene, it’s unlikely to do anything new. Rather, it raises awareness of what is already there. That is usually enough. The bad reputation that Chiron has among astrologers who don’t work with it that much is in part based on the tendency of people to ignore the important matters in their lives, particularly as regards healing. Then one day Chiron comes along and flips on the lights. What you see is what you already had.

Thus, you’re likely to discover you were in certain situations you didn’t realize you were in. This may call for careful negotiation of your existing circumstances. I suggest you beware of any tendency to think you have to live with anything that is broken or hurting you. I would listen for when you utter (or contemplate) any version of the notion ‘put up with’. This is a time to put up with nothing, particularly your own tendency to deny what you perceive — or to overreact to it.

When Chiron is active in one’s chart, the word most frequently used to describe it is intense. That doesn’t say a lot; we need to look into that intensity, with some courage. Under this influence there can be a sudden acceleration of events, a heightened state of awareness, and in your particular chart, a special focus on relationships.

Part of that focus is a requirement for both clarity and integrity that is unusual for you. Incomplete transactions with people will no longer work. What you may sometimes experience as a state of fuzzy commitment won’t, either.

I suggest you be particularly mindful of your tendency to do an approach/avoid routine. That indicates something deeper is going on beneath the surface: generally, the thing to look for is the influence of guilt. Guilt is not usually the result of something we did, but rather the residual effect of something that was done to us. It’s more influential in our lives than we think. You could take much of what is called ‘love’ in our society and without needing a magnifying glass, see that it’s actually about guilt.

The propensity of the human mind to project all of its darkest material outward onto others becomes a special area of focus. Pisces is your solar 7th house, and if you’re Virgo rising, your 7th house. The effects are very similar. The 7th is the heart of the zone of projection — the quarter of the chart going from the 5th through the 8th houses, where the topic of relationships is addressed.

It is difficult to write about or describe projection — seeing attributes of yourself in others, and thinking they reside exclusively outside of you. A good time to pay attention is when you find yourself being in any way judgmental of others. Few people notice that this happens to them, though they may notice when others do it. Yet it’s going to be necessary to know whose material is whose in your most intimate encounters. This transit is about considering boundaries in a whole new way. I know that the word ‘boundaries’ is thrown around a lot.

Looked at one way it can be about taking off your muddy boots before you walk on someone’s clean floor. Looked at another way, it’s about taking responsibility for what you feel. I recognize the whole topic is controversial because as soon as someone suggests we are responsible for how we feel or for creating our lives, that almost invariably evokes a discussion about blaming the victim. I think on the whole it’s better to take a little more responsibility than a little less, but at the very least we need to reality-check every situation as a conscious act prior to making any firm decisions about what is really happening.

I do have a particular meaning for the term, which is taking responsibility for how you perceive things, and recognizing that there are many ways to perceive any situation. Here is an example: Let’s say you have a dream about all the cows in the world stampeding. Not just the cows near you, but everywhere. You wake up and you feel like you’re having a prophecy: there’s going to be an enormous stampede, and you have this impulse to warn everyone. The cows are coming!

It would be better, in the first instance, to take that dream as a psychological message. That is, those cows are saying something about you and how you feel, rather than what any actual cows in the world are going to be doing. Honoring the boundary of your own psyche, you would take the dream as personal material first, and perhaps exclusively so. In other words, the dream is about you — not the cows. This would hold true no matter how prophetic a dream might feel, or how public the subject matter.

When we consider this guideline in terms of our relationships, it gets a little trickier, because people have individual volition in a way that cows in a dream contained within your psyche do not. Honoring the boundary means, at the least, being willing to reality-check your own perceptions. Ideally you would do this all the time, but particularly pay attention when you start ascribing motives to others, attempting to discern what they feel, or deciding what they want — especially if you notice that you’re doing so in an unloving way.

Focusing On Yourself

Chiron opposing your Sun or ascendant, no matter how broadly, is going to call your relational experiences into focus. But that really means that your own tendencies in relationships are what’s going to come into focus. The first of those tendencies is being so concerned about relationships. Don’t worry, it’s not just you; this is one of the biggest cover-ups in the history of humanity.

In modern life this is expressed, particularly by women but to some extent by men, as being two different people, one when ‘not in a relationship’ and the other ‘when in a relationship’. The ‘when not’ phase is characterized by being ‘more yourself’, and focusing on your true priorities. Then a relationship comes along and takes over everything, and you feel compelled to give up what is important to you (art, studies, friends, whatever) and focus on this special person.

It might seem extreme to call this a lack of integrity, but not a need for integration (which is the same basic idea). What you’re likely to encounter are relational situations that focus you on yourself, one way or another. As a general guide, your relationships are in integrity when they support you living your life. They are out of integrity when you lose track of who you are or what you want.

We have a lot of issues around self-focus. On the one hand it’s considered normal to spend hours a day putting on one’s makeup, or otherwise adorning oneself. But it’s considered selfish to make decisions based on your actual needs or feelings.

There is a quality in our culture that I describe as the narcissism wound. That is an injury to self-awareness, usually inflicted on us by one or both parents, that makes it seem in some way odd or disgusting that we love ourselves. In the world of personality games, it’s more acceptable to allow superficial narcissism to cover up a lack of self-focus than it is to actually focus on one’s own personal process, choices and growth.

Sometimes it feels like self-consciousness, embarrassment or shame, which I think are far deeper emotions than we give them credit for being.

Sometimes, we can feel narcissistic for wanting to heal. We can feel in some way overly self-focused for wanting to love ourselves, and then recoil at the prospect. Being able to love yourself, recognize yourself, see your value to others, and see your value without any affirmation from others, are all components in healing the narcissism wound. And in that space can be all kinds of dark matter from the past.

I’ve mentioned the human tendency to project shadow material. With Pisces influencing your relationship house, that tendency would also be to project a kind of idealism outward. This idealism is one of the most significant things that you have disappointed in your relationships. Or you notice that you hadn’t quite figured out who someone was when you got to know them. Or, you had a boundary crossed and that’s how things got to be the way they are.

Chiron’s presence is a reminder to look at the whole story of your relationships and see what they have in common; to find the common thread. I suggest you also consider the Chiron in Sagittarius phase from the late 1990s to make the connection to the tendencies of your family — this will help you create a more complete narrative. The tendencies you have in your relationships have their roots in your childhood; so this is the perfect opportunity to heal both.

One thing I suggest is that you perceive any relationship encounter as a means to healing all your relationships. And I suggest you be careful getting close to people who ‘just don’t get it’ when it comes to matters of doing personal work. They will still participate in your process but more like an antagonist than a willing collaborator. You’ve had enough of those, I would guess. Let’s go for openly willing partner, supporter, participant — someone who reflects the willing, open-minded aspect of your nature and is friendly to your growth process.

Sex, Art, Curiosity, Independence

I’ve said a lot about relationships so far, and how they can and indeed must point you inward. Everything else in your life seems to be a conspiracy to do that, and what’s interesting is that you’re developing the inner resources and inner space to be able to explore more freely.

I want to cover a bit about Pluto in Capricorn, your 5th house (which I covered in more detail in Cosmic Confidential), though with a year’s reflection I have a few additional thoughts for you.

When we think of the conservative-leaning nature of your sign, we can connect that with Capricorn in your 5th house. The 5th likes to take chances; Capricorn tends to base things on the past, likes to work with a plan, and treads carefully on the future. The passionate, creative and moreover curious nature of the 5th house doesn’t quite harmonize with that sense of caution, though it can have its moments (these are more often about release in the sense of the utterly debauched Roman festival Saturnalia than they are about ongoing creation and exploring existence).

Pluto in Capricorn is turning over the soil of this house, revealing the fresh, fertile earth below the surface. There is more than a touch of revolution to this, and we’re only at the beginning of the process. One influence is that you may feel more willing to take chances, to explore rather than think about your passions, and to be willing to violate what you think of as tradition. You might, for example, associate any form of sexual expression with the need to be in a ‘structured’ relationship. It’s not just you. There is a Muslim custom of couples getting ‘temporarily married’ so they can have an affair. We have many versions of this here in the supposedly secular West, where we must project every sexual encounter into at least the potential for a lifelong bond. Pluto in Capricorn is about going beneath this kind of mental or emotional tendency and simply being willing to take a chance.

What you’re really violating was a childhood admonition that you not be a child; that you not have the opportunities of a child and, as is the case of many with a strong Virgo influence, that you lived as an adult from the time you were very young. What Pluto is doing is helping unearth the child in you, and this child wants to play.

I mentioned a moment ago that Uranus is making an exit from Pisces after a seven-year stay. What’s also true is that Jupiter has been there on and off for more than a year, and that both are moving into your 8th house.

The 8th is one of the most sexual houses of the lot, so along with Pluto in Capricorn stirring up your creative and sexual curiosity, you’re getting a burst of energy through a region of your psyche that is about exchange; and the exchange is often erotic in nature — in the sense of describing what you really want.

Aries in the 8th house is about being fully present in your sexual encounters, and choosing partners who really get who you are; and moreover who you feel honor who you are. This presents an interesting contradiction from the usually self-sacrificing, self-effacing qualities of Virgo: at the same time you seek a kind of absolute recognition. And, at the same time again, you may notice how easy it is for you to lose yourself in another person.

Now you have two big planets in that house, representing opportunities to expand your concept of self in relationships (Jupiter) and revolutionize your experience of yourself in relationships. Simply put, you’re summoning yourself to be a bigger, more self-assertive person in these areas of your life, and to insist on a kind of independence that would indeed be unusual for you. While Jupiter will whip through in a fairly short time, Uranus is there to stay for seven years, so you have time to work with this one. The implication is that you’re going to crave a kind of radical autonomy that seems to contradict many of your past experiences.

While this will have many expressions, sex is likely to be one of them.

The 8th also addresses joint finances. One thing almost certain about the influence of Uranus in this house is that the more financially independent you are, the more you’re going to gain the benefits of this transit. Wealth is always generated in a form of exchange. However, we may sell out to a greater or lesser degree in these exchanges; and the idea of Uranus in Aries is to not sell yourself out at all.

This may feel like maintaining some high tension or treading on some sensitive ground; but soon enough, with a bit of practice, you will get the hang of it.

A Word About Neptune in Pisces

For a few months this year, Neptune is going to dip into the waters of Pisces for the first time since the 19th century. This adds a temporary presence in your 7th house. This is, very fortunately, happening concurrently with the transit of Chiron through this angle of your chart. I would offer a few thoughts about this transit, which is much more of a factor in your astrology for 2012 and beyond.

While you are being realistic and focused about who you engage with and what you exchange with them, and calling back your projections, you may notice an exaggerated tendency to do just the kind of idealizing that is fairly normal for you — but which will feel more exaggerated. I suggest you notice when you do this. It might be tricky; you might get caught in the occasional dream-drama and have to work your way out of it.

One clue that you may be headed for such a drama is that you feel isolated, or you feel that someone you want really, really badly is inaccessible. This is the moment to wake up. Relationships are all about accessibility — unless we get caught in the cult of unrequited love. I suggest you take unrequited love as a sign that you’re not owning something about yourself. It feels like real and convincing love while it’s happening.

Now you have an option, represented by Chiron. That option always involves some form of direct contact — not fantasy or imaginary contact or possible contact, but the real thing. And, though you may find yourself getting lost in fantasies about someone from time to time, an authentic, immediate point of contact is available — particularly if that contact involves coming to terms directly with something in yourself. The isolation of Neptune is isolation from yourself; the contact of Chiron is contact with yourself; self-awareness; access to your inner mysteries.

Your Double Professional Life

Let’s end our discussion with a look at your house of professional affairs — Gemini and your 10th house from the Sun or ascendant. Have you ever felt you needed to have two simultaneous careers, equally spectacular? I don’t mean a career and a hobby; I mean two things for which you are well known and respected, where you make genuine contributions.

This is becoming more or less expected as the notion of a ‘job’ changes, though not with the intensity or level of success that you want and that would be truly beneficial for you. People with strongly dualistic natures need to express that dualism in healthy ways. Because the mutable signs are so strong in your chart, you would qualify, though the way this comes out most prominently is your 10th house. These careers may be hilariously different: you may be an explosives expert during the day and a ballet dancer nights and weekends.

Here is one thing to keep in mind: it is challenging to keep equal intensity on both at the same time. But in the long run you may find you’ve devoted equal time, love and energy to both. This will work in cycles; at times one will command more attention than the other; and at times they will both be calling for your attention. So a measure of prioritization and balance are called for. It helps not to get discouraged.

Note that your sign, Virgo, and Gemini are ruled in traditional astrology by the same planet — Mercury. This suggests you will identify closely with the work that you do — and that you need to choose your work on the basis of that strong identification. Here is one other thing to keep in mind: there are not ‘two yous’. There are two facets to who you are, and they both need expression. That expression, like many things in your life, is a vehicle to inner integration through outer activity. Even in the case of the explosives expert/ballet dancer, there is a common thread: precision, movement, expression of energy. Before you decide you’re in conflict, look for your common threads.

As you move through the seasons of this year, notice what aspect of your work you identify with the most deeply, and personally. As your inner focus changes, gradually morph in the direction of the activity or task that expresses that part of you. Obviously if you have booming activity in one aspect of your work life, you will need to give that more attention, though I suggest you always find time, even if it’s five minutes a day, to honor the other aspects of your expression. Most of the other aspects I’ve described suggest that you’re going to have a lot of options for new things to do — make sure you honor those when you feel moved to.

This phase of your life is about nothing less than recognizing you’re a whole person. Not becoming one — seeing that you already are.

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