An opportunity for self-forgiveness: Ixion on the mutable cross

Repurposed hospital bed, Oquossoc, Maine. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Today is Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. The Moon continues its trek through Capricorn as it builds toward full phase, beginning the day trine the Virgo Sun at about 12:08 am EDT. This brings the Moon into conversation with the mid-mutable sign cross we’ve been discussing in this space this week, perhaps making its energy a little easier to handle.

Earth & water - photo by Eric.

To recap: at the moment, the mid-Virgo Sun is square a cluster of minor planets and points in mid-Sagittarius. These points include two slow-moving centaur planets — Hylonome, and Pholus, which are conjunct a very large, distant object called the Great Attractor. Centaurs can provoke awareness; they can be painful; they will almost always direct us into healing mode, if we let them. Hylonome brings up the theme of pain that is spread through a whole culture; Pholus brings up the theme of intoxicants, starting with alcohol, but also various psychic drugs such as the pain that is pumped out through television. All the centaurs deal with old material, though Pholus specifically has the theme of what you might call ancestral baggage. When Pholus shows up, we are dealing with what our ancestors refused to address. ‘Ancestors’ by the way starts with your parents; go back three or four generations when investigating Pholus.

Two asteroids are influential as well. One is Narcissus, the root of the concept narcissism — what you can think of as toxic self-love (not really love at all). The other is Sphinx, which conveys the feeling of a mystery so deep we will never understand or solve it. That’s the symbol, anyway; the information we need may be accessible.

Then there is Ixion, a planet out near Pluto that is about amorality: that is, the odd way in which certain people (including political leaders) lack any concept of right or wrong. Then people follow their example. The delineation I work with is “Anyone is capable of anything.” The public corruption we are becoming aware of is symbolized by Ixion, and in Sagittarius, we have an image of politicians fraudulently claiming to bring the gospel of Jesus, and using this to amass power. The reason you know it’s fraudulent is because the teachings of Jesus are about compassion, forgiveness and acceptance. Anyone preaching hate and murder is singing a different tune, no matter what they call it.

This alignment says so much about our current moment culturally, as outlined in entries the past two days. Ultimately it is the square from the Sun that is plugging these bulbs into the socket and lighting them up. We know the Sun is a symbol of self; when we ask each other “What’s your sign?” we’re referring to Sun sign. The Sun is about self, but the self we express and identify with outwardly.

Let’s focus on Ixion. This is a slow-moving minor planet named after a king who committed the crime of killing his father-in-law. In Greek mythology he is the first murderer. He went mad in reaction to his own act, and was denied traditional forgiveness rites. Zeus took pity on him and invited him to Mount Olympus, where Ixion violated guest-host customs by plotting the rape of Hera, the Queen of Heaven. (Those words will send chills down the spine of anyone who grasps who Hera was in Greek mythology.)

Using a cloud-decoy in her shape, Zeus tricked Ixion, preventing the rape. (In another telling, Hera sets up the decoy herself.) The offspring of the cloud and Ixion went on to father the race of centaurs — all except Chiron and Pholus, that is.

Ixion does two things in this story. One is that he shows he has no morals; no ethics; no sense of right or wrong. He lacks boundaries. He is criminally insane, on an unimaginable scale — what you might call a sociopath. And he is a king, making this all the more outrageous. Second, he squanders his second chance. Even after committing murder, Zeus offers him the opportunity to heal and grow, and he takes that opportunity and plots the rape of the queen of the Olympian gods and goddesses. Zeus then expelled him from Olympus to spin in eternity bound to a burning wheel.

These planets (and the stories that come with them) can manifest on at least two levels — individual and cultural. Tracy Delaney, programmer of the Serennu minor planet ephemeris, is gifted at working out difficult delineations. “Ixion is ‘the unforgiven’ — the original source of the split,” she writes, meaning the split in the human mind. He is capable of anything, but he’s also “the king of dissociation — my deepest fears about who / what I may really be / capable of.”

Adding Ixion to the rest of the mid-Sagg alignment, including Pholus and Narcissus, she proposes: “I think maybe it could feel like: I’m hell bent on coming out (as me). I want you to see the warts and poison and filth and all — the parts I can’t even accept myself — but I want YOU to accept them. I want it to hurt, I want to wallow in the pain of losing those who can’t accept me, it will be soooo cathartic.”

Yes, cathartic and destructive.

“Turning forever on the wheel of fire could be read as what we do to ourselves if we can’t forgive ourselves / accept ourselves. Ixion could be where we think we are unforgivable / unforgiven / have an actual stain on the soul, the idea of original sin,” she adds. Which — notably — is about the lack of self-forgiveness. But it’s hardly original; it’s something we’re taught, generation after generation.

What can be continually surprising to us is how those unforgiven/unforgivable places can hide out in our blind spots or masquerade as something else entirely for considerable stretches of time. Old wounds, in particular the kind we tend to deem ‘unforgivable’, generally carry a lot of shame — hence the lack of self-forgiveness. Shame also contributes to the tendency of that pain to bury itself in deep, fueling reactions we have a hard time identifying with the original wound and need for forgiveness, since we do not see it. The Great Attractor is associated with things so big we do not see them, or with not actually knowing what we’re dealing with.

On a cultural level, we are seeing many manifestations of Ixion right now. There something verging on a mania when it comes to blurring the boundaries of right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate. When people cheer when political leaders abuse people, and when people invite them to take their power and resources, you can be sure there is a kind of cultural sickness going on. One manifestation of this was the throngs gathering in the streets to party when Osama bin Laden was allegedly assassinated; it’s clearly the result of cultural sickness.

We might ask how w can heal this — yet cultures don’t really heal — individual people do, and when enough people wake up and decide to clear up their minds, the culture can start to shift. Pholus in the mix may imply that it won’t take all that much positive energy to shift things. It’s also a caution to pick your moments carefully when you feel an outburst waiting in the wings. Narcissus adds the thought to watch out for self-absorption. Yes, your pain is real and your pain is yours to express; but are you looking at the full context surrounding that pain? Are you seeing the loving intentions of those in relationship to you, or their limits, or how your pain and theirs may intersect or exacerbate each other? And not merely by the way — it takes people in pain to put up with the political leaders who inflict it.

Tracy mentions the catharsis inherent in losing those who cannot accept us for who we are, and catharsis implies deep grief — the byword of Hylonome. We do grieve the losses of everything from loved ones and relationships to self-concepts and the habits that signify them; we also often avoid change in order to avoid the pain of grief, even unconsciously, even in relatively small matters.

But what are we really avoiding? Is it the pain of loss, or rather the terror of the unknown — that moment of limbo when the old falls away and the new has not yet manifested? That may be the flavor the Sphinx brings in: that moment of mystery (in this case, the mysteries of healing and transformation). Sometimes that moment stretches out a while before nature fills the vacuum or we ourselves redefine it; sometimes it really is just a breath or two long.

Can you sit today with the mystery moment of who will still love you, warts and all? Can you reveal yourself without the truly self-destructive outburst? And if not, can you forgive yourself and accept that on this day, in these extraordinary times, you allowed grief its moment so that you may allow in something new? That something new may turn out to be forgiveness after all — in its own time.

— Eric Francis and Amanda Painter

16 thoughts on “An opportunity for self-forgiveness: Ixion on the mutable cross”

  1. carrie — sounds like you’re on a healthy track regarding your parents, as scary and unbelievable as it may feel. good luck! undoubtedly the energy you no longer throw into that abyss will serve you and the rest of your family beautifully.

  2. Forgiveness and the synchronicity of reading about Narcissus in the week after I realized my parents are narcissists seem to be a running theme. I cut off all communication with my mother last week because she does have five of the nine traits the DSM -IV (or whatever it is now) says is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There’s no cure so I have walked away instead of wasting another second of my life on trying to find SOME love and compassion from her. It isn’t that I have not forgiven her, it is that I have but I also know she will not change and I HAVE to take care of myself instead of being her fix at the expense of my self worth and soul.

    Fear that I am doing the wrong thing by stopping communication, anxiety about what karma that will bring, worry about what backlash may come from keeping control over my Dad’s finances when he is asking for control of them while still hoarding his Vicodin and then being caught doing so…this is my week so far. A sense of anxiety over my school assignments and the time they take away from teaching my son and running the household is in there as well.

    Yet behind it all there’s a weird and small voice saying it will all be ok, I am ok, I am worthy, life is good and I WILL get things done and I WILL be safe and happy and sane. PW helps that voice grow stronger every day. Thank you SO much for being here.

  3. Amazing. Last night had an hours long talk with a friend about deep complicated grief and self-forgiveness by implication more than anything. Definitely a part of me writhing/burning on that wheel. From whence does the healing self forgiveness come? Soon, I hope. Soon. Awareness at least a beginning.

  4. Whether amoral or otherwise, I find I’ve continuously ditched myself (is it Aquarian detachment or just my inner-Eris reaction to being shunned) … I will say that i’m noticing elements of narcicism (and toxicity) in my insistance on being fully accepted. Regardless, the layer of toxic guilt over my Mother’s death is keeping me buried and in this bubble. From what I read here, I’m encouraged to move on, out, up and whole.

    Wow. Lots to process here. So much gratitude to you all.


  5. Observations of ppl around me past couple days; ppl cutting loose other ppl somsetimes with rage, sometimes without rage, but not without judgement or classification.

    It seems to me this fits into that old model of self-destructive outburst of which I have experienced much much much to much from too many people through life.

    In attempt to learn and live differently, I currently apply this new model – of looking at the relationship (as entity) between myself and any other and searching for how the RELATIONSHIP fits what is happening in (my) world then adjusting my responses appropriately. Otherwise, old situations will return; old feelings continue to recycle. I have discarded the attachment/s to the old way-of-relating, way-of-seeing; way-of-experiencing with other/s and this allows the “others” to be something different than they were.

    Well, on the spur of moment; don’t know if that made sense, but for me it fits this concept of not-self-destructing but rather, self-rebuilding.

    Really appreciate the article; intense times. So glad to be on the boat with PW.


  6. Sometimes I think I am all alone until I read something like this….I so identify with what
    You write..

    In my journal entry this morning, I touched base on the animal kingdom and
    How they coexist….what the hell happened to the human race?
    I just cant grasp people at all? “We all gather at the watering hole”….dont we?

    Peace and love,


  7. Oh no! I hate it when the daily reading applies DIRECTLY to me and I was trying not to see it 🙁

    “I’m hell bent on coming out (as me). I want you to see the warts and poison and filth and all — the parts I can’t even accept myself — but I want YOU to accept them. I want it to hurt, I want to wallow in the pain of losing those who can’t accept me, it will be soooo cathartic.”

    Yes, cathartic and destructive.”

    I’m pretty sure that describes exactly the letter I drafted (but fortunately did not send) telling someone that I plan to demand their apologies for things THEY did TO ME and that if they can’t apologize in the way I want it, I’m out of the relationship forever. Ugh, seen in the light of what’s going on astrologically, I’m pretty sure I’m glad I decided to let myself sleep on it overnight.

    The challenge now is how to actually let the Divine flow through me into a space where my power doesn’t have to come from anger, but from another space.

    Incidentally, found myself shuddering at that word “forgiveness” – seems like it’s stalking me lately and I surely don’t want to give it any air time, despite the fact that it’s haunting me day and night from every corner. Ugh!

  8. For me this is a tremendously insightful, helpful article. I could comment with a thank you at the end of each on almost every one of your sentences. Right now, I simply want to thank you for mentioning that Pholus in this mix can refer to small good things. I am working specifically at the moment on “quantum” changes in my thoughts and electromagnetic field, fully believing these positive changes will affect us all in the outcome of all things.
    Oh, yes… one more, the grief of losing those who cannot accept who we are, stepping into the terror of the unkown as we wait for what will fill the void….yep. Great interpretation of the Sphinx.
    Thanks again and xo. +_+

  9. I think with the Greeks the thing to be most mindful of is their dislike of women. There are others; that’s tops on my list. It does not make their observations ‘wrong’ but you don’t need to look far to see the bias. Of course, portraying the king of the gods as a rapist is a tad misanthropic.

    BTW by amoral I don’t mean “choosing ethics instead” but rather entirely unhinged and opportunistic. We would not need morals if we had ethics.

  10. *justify* anything because of the survival imperative.

    And thanks, Lula.. 😉

  11. Thanks Eric. A useful elaboration of the Eris/Ixion intersection. Within these shades of grey, it seems to me, the question in practice is pressingly “What is my ‘moral’ compass?” and the corollary “Is it reliable and therefore fit for purpose?”

    When you are seemingly cast adrift on the open seas it becomes much easier to just anything because of the survival imperative – interestingly, it is just such a survival narrative that drives the narrative in psychopathy; in this case “Kill or be killed” but other species of the imperative are possible like “Sacrifice self to save others” which, I think, in your own writings Eric, you have likened to what becomes the toxic root of narcissism and presumably the inverted narcissism of co-dependency.

    Maybe the issue becomes one of how we can sanely choose our autonomy, without this being predicated upon deeply buried, seemingly too big or out of reach, pain.

    It is of course also possible to defend the purportedly higher vibration of amorality as being what is happening with oneself, when in fact one has ventured into the reservoir of pain. It is a fine line.

    On a previous thread a while ago, my recollection is of mentioning the film ‘The Assassination of Richard Nixon’ as a very good treatment of this phenomenon, starring Sean Penn.

    Again, great article! 🙂

  12. Well said, Half, I totally agree. I consider myself to be amoral, because the concept of morality (or immorality, for that matter) implies judgement, and I don’t feel it’s helpful to judge anyone or anything when things are travelling as fast as they are right now. Also, notions of morality make it difficult for acceptance to happen, and until that happens, healing is very difficult.

  13. One of the aspects that is lurking in the background of this is Mars square Eris. So all these Sun squares to the Sagittarius lineup are happening concurrently with Mars-Eris going on. This has to be pretty provocative. The common theme between Eris and Ixion is that amoral quality they can have: neither cares about the rules. They work on different levels psychologically as far as I can see, but that is the common thread. Ixion will bend or discard the rules of right and wrong. Eris can toss the rules surrounding ‘who I am’ (postmodern identity chaos) and also what you’re supposedly entitled to do to make an impression on others or get your way.

  14. I love this article! The astrological delineation is highly relevant and clarifying the lines between individual and culture, very helpful.

    One slight note of a seemingly technical nature but which is important:

    a·mor·al (-môrl, -mr-)
    1. Not admitting of moral distinctions or judgments; neither moral nor immoral.
    2. Lacking moral sensibility; not caring about right and wrong.

    The definition of amoral used in the article is the 2nd sense. But the word carries the 1st sense too. Friedrich Nietzsche’s book Beyond Good and Evil built on his earlier work Thus Spoke Zarathustra – and it is important to distinguish the senses of amoral.

    The sense from Nietzsche involves the critique of the moralistic history of philosophy and thinking of all stripes. Being amoral in this sense implies having a highly individuated ethical code that is born of experience, awareness and reflection. This speaks of an integrity beyond, or above, moral categories. It is not taking its anchoring from outside the self (heteronomy – or rule by another) but is autonomously defined. One actually finds the strength to overcome the shame (morality shames us) – and this reflects the distinction between conscience and guilt.

    Guilt is an infantile tool utilised by brokers of arbitrary power and which is the key psychological device (along with shame) by which people are regularly corralled by abusive-types into conformity, at the cost of personal emotional intactness.

    Conscience is capable of being present without the need for guilt. Arguably, psychopaths are the quintessential example of casting off guilt and being left with no conscience – which would be tantamount to the 2nd definition of amoral used in the article.

    It is important to be clear on the use of the word and precise, simply because people imbibing solely the second definition can end up being, through repeated exposure to that definition, rejecting of the Nietzschean sense (because confusing that with amorality that is without conscience – when actually it is NOT that in Nietzsche’s case).

    Note how it has been fashionable to represent Nietzsche’s Übermensch concept as being what spawned Hitler’s ideology about a super race.

    I consider myself amoral but not immoral. It IS risky when you cut the social moorings to reach a higher vibration and that is precisely why the article is so very important – you become more susceptible to not noticing (in autonomy) your personal blindspots and having unrecognised toxins running the show!

    I wouldn’t like this caveat to take away from the brilliance and timely importance of this article but the clarification on amorality is important.

    My feeling (coming as I write) is that maybe Greek mythology with all its rich correlation to human story/drama/emotion is very well suited to understanding the rich fabric of timeless human themes but will also at times bequeath to us something reductionist in its lens, coming from its specific cultural, historical and political situatedness. Vigilance may be needed when translate straight to the contemporary situation – a LOT of water has passed under the bridge between then and now!


  15. Thank you. This is truly amazing – fascinating reading, and so very very helpful. There is some great stuff about buried grief in ‘Who dies?’ by Stephen Levine. xxx

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