Astrology Secrets Revealed by ERIC FRANCIS

Chiron in Aquarius


February 18, 2005 (with chart)


Dear Readers:


The shocking news of the week, and the best astrology news in quite a while, is that Chiron is about to go into Aquarius for the first time since 1961. This happens Monday, Feb. 21, 2005 at 6:09 pm GMT in London, 1:09 pm EST in New York, 10:09 am PST in California, 5:09 am on Tuesday, Feb. 22 in Sydney, and 13:56 local time at Cydonia Mensae, at the 'Face on Mars'.


For those who would like to start from the beginning on Chiron, this is a minor planet orbiting our Sun that was discovered in 1977 by astronomer Charles Kowal. It was at the time considered the first significant discovery since Pluto in 1930, which is largely because it was found orbiting outside any known asteroid belt.


Chiron is not exactly what most astronomers, or astrologers, think of as a planet; personally, I don't get hung up on this discussion, because most people (including scientists) are offering arbitrary, as in unscientific, arguments, which are not so poetic either. There is nothing in the world uglier than a scientist making emotional arguments. I say if it acts like a planet astrologically, it's a planet. But according to the legend, Chiron was initially announced as a planet, so it got the attention of some astrologers, who were very dedicated and passionate at the time. Technically, it turns out to be a huge 'proto comet' about 160-180 KM across, which is enormous for a comet nucleus. It has an atmosphere or two, a couple of tails, and a fairly large following in the astrological world, as these things go.


Chiron is believed to have been pulled into the inner solar system from the region where Pluto lives, called the Kuiper Belt. Compared to Pluto, which was discovered in 1930 and which didn't have a book written about it in English till around 1985, Chiron has gained ground among astrologers very fast.


Chiron's first astrological keyword was bestowed by its astronomical discoverer: maverick, or the one who does things differently. "This thing is a maverick," he said, because it defied any known planetary category. He called it Chiron because Chiron was half-man, half-horse, neither truly human nor truly animal, but a kind of crossbreed. As such, Chiron's story is the story of all humanity, as we all live with the division between human and animal, and in many respects that is what makes us truly human.


Chiron was discovered in the sign Taurus. It's discovery degree symbol, or Sabian symbol, is 'The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow', which is about the linking of the mundane and the celestial order. Hence we have a source for all the rainbow, bridge, and transition between the cosmic and mundane type imagery given to Chiron, and which it seems to deserve.


Chiron's more subtle themes, as later deduced by astrologers, are very much in tune with both Chiron's name and myth, and also the era in which it was discovered, centering on what was at the time called 'human potential'. Yes, there was a time in history not so long ago when people were willing to admit that the human race had actual potential, and that together we could make the world a better place. The mid-to-late 70s were a daring era in history, with much experimentation in feminism, therapy, spiritual ideology, divination, astrology, organic food and sexuality. Holistic healing was starting to get attention. Look around at the oldest institutions, from yoga programs to food co-ops, and you'll see that many of them started in the late 70s to early 80s.


One interesting bit about Chiron is that there exist what are called 'pre-discovery photos' -- pictures of the night sky including Chiron that were later found in the file cabinets of observatories, but which nobody at the time connected to the existence of a planet. The first such photo was taken in 1895, in the same year that D.D. Palmer did the world's first procedure in a new medical art he had discovered, what he called 'chiropractic' -- curing a janitor in his office building of deafness by adjusting the bones of his spine. Chiropractic is a holistic form of medicine and was named for Chiron, the first Centaur of Greek mythology. The word 'Chiron' means 'one who has hands' and many things of a chirotic nature, such as chiropractic, are done with the hands. Along the same lines, the French word for surgery is 'chirurgie'.


Chiron of Greek mythology was a famous healer, surgeon, herbalist and mentor to the generation of great heroes of the Helenic age: Jason, Heracles, and Achilles among them, and Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. (Chiron was taught the art of medicine by Apollo.) So right away we see some core Chiron themes: teaching, healing, medical arts, and the hands. Psychologically, Chiron focuses awareness, generally around some kind of injury, creating processes in the psyche where one typically starts with an early injury or weakness of some kind and then -- due to little other than the need to adapt to life on the planet -- develops it in to a talent, a gift or a healing skill. If the pain associated with that injury or weakness is not addressed, then it can get worse and not better, or more deeply entrenched, until at some point awareness is added to the equation. This often happens during Chiron transits, where systems seem to break down so that new ones can take over.


Since Aquarius deals with systems of all kinds, this may be a defining quality of the Aquarius phase.


Chiron is now working as an outer planet, as it has crossed outside of Saturn's orbit. Chiron's orbit is located between Saturn and Uranus. Saturn takes about 29 years to go around the Sun; Uranus takes about 84 years to go around the Sun; Chiron takes just over 50 years. All planets (as Kepler figured out) have an elliptical or egg-shaped orbit, but Chiron's is unusually so. At the close end of its cycle, the perihelion, it comes inside Saturn's orbit and at the far end, the aphelion, it goes out nearly (but not quite) as far as Uranus.


Thus, Chiron functions as a mediator between the 'structure' property of Saturn and the 'energy' property of Uranus. It can work or appear to work as either of these two planets, but more often it brings energy and change into a structured system (such as a relationship or job), or alternately helps apply structure to an experience of energy. Remember though that both Saturn and Uranus are planets associated with Aquarius, so no matter how you look at it, Chiron brings a lot of energy into the equation. When Chiron shows up, there are usually immediate developments, so Chiron is very useful and practical, particularly in doing diagnostic work with an astrological chart.


Because of its elliptical orbit, Chiron takes just 18 months to go through Libra, where it's nearest to the Sun (this occurred in 1997), and nine years to go through Aries, where it's the furthest from the Sun (this last occurred in the early 1970s). Now that it's reaching the far side of its orbit, Chiron will take about six years to go through Aquarius. It has taken about three and a half years to go through Capricorn, beginning in late 2001 (just after the Sept. 11 incident), though it still has a little more time left in that sign; 2005 is the transition between Chiron in Capricorn and Chiron in Aquarius.


This is because Chiron will retrograde back into Capricorn on August 1, retrograde back to 28 degrees, station and come back to Aquarius on Dec. 5. It will remain in Aquarius until it begins to transition out of that sign and into Pisces in 2010 and 2011. As I covered extensively in Bridge to the Core, Chiron in Aquarius is the single most consistent new factor between now and 2012; it is the express train to the future. It seems clear, from experience and intuitively, that this is an era-defining astrological change.


Here is the chart for the first entry of Chiron to Aquarius:


What we get in the coming couple of seasons is a warm-up to the new era. Chiron has an unusual way of helping define eras in history, seeming to do so increasingly as it gets further from the Sun and slows down. The now-ending Chiron in Capricorn phase has brought out evidence of some of the most sordid behavior by governments and corporations since Machiavelli personally ate meat on the planet. But in true Chiron fashion, this activity has been brought to light rather than be kept hidden away. Chiron's main job is to light the way to spiritual growth by raising awareness, or at least making awareness available if we want it. When we look back on this era in a few years, we will be stunned at what we knew and took so nonchalantly -- of this, I would be happy to bet the entire reading audience dinner (as a journalist, I always welcome free meals).


Chiron is doing some fancy tricks this spring. Chiron in Aquarius is fancy enough. Aquarius is a very different energy than Capricorn. Capricorn deals with issues and themes relating to authority, parents and obligations. Aquarius is about community, groups of people, collective enterprises, and the quest for belonging and tribal consciousness. So Chiron in Aquarius is likely to raise the whole issue of WE, and what WE are doing, and what WE mean to one another, and who I am in connection to US. Aquarius is the extremely useful zone in astrology where we all figure out that we're not alone, but we have to figure out who we are first, or at least notice that we exist. The Aquarius formula is that true individuality comes right before true group consciousness. Another part of the formula is that freedom requires responsibility.


The first really fancy trick is that Chiron is now forming an close conjunction to another planet in its class, Nessus -- the third Centaur planet (discovered in 1993, and which reached Aquarius a few weeks ago). This reaches its most exact position the first week of May. My take is that this is a major, era-defining aspect that awakens the culture in some way. Aquarius is the sign of 'we the people' and Chiron brings significant awareness wherever it goes. Nessus comes with the theme, 'the buck stops here', and is always quite willing to point out the psychological darkness on the planet -- and give us the tools to heal it. So, as I see it, the buck stops with we the people. We can expect to see, and partake in, some resistance to the many shenanigans perpetuated by the so-called leaders holding office in the Western world. By August, both planets will have retrograded back into Capricorn, where they remain in a close conjunction, giving us one last fabulous hurrah for the Chiron in Capricorn ('post 9/11') era.


The next impressive move that Chiron is making is that when it goes into Aquarius and stations in an exact conjunction with Nessus, it's making an exact square (or 90 degree angle) to its discovery position. This is to say that Chiron was discovered in the 4th degree of Taurus in 1977. Now, it reaches the 4th degree of Aquarius, along with Nessus. Taurus and Aquarius are fixed signs, so that means we get a square aspect. So we have a landmark moment in the history of Chiron itself, and its place in our minds, our development and our astrology. In the story of one's Chiron transits, the square is usually a big moment.


The next fancy trick is that there are currently under way a series of seven Chiron oppositions to Saturn. The next three will occur with Chiron and Saturn in their new signs, Aquarius and Leo, respectively. The next one is July 21, 2005, very close to a Full Moon, both in time (four hours before) and in distance (the Capricorn Full Moon is in the late degrees of Cancer/Capricorn, just two degrees away from the Saturn-Chiron opposition). Mark your calendar and fasten your seatbelts. This aspect-event is going to involve a lot of people and come with some major revelation, shift or change. My take is that this will arrive on the heels of a very exciting springtime, and whatever occurs may seem like a reaction to the energy that has been raised, and a reaction it may be.


But whatever the dark forces have up their sleeves, Chiron in Aquarius is setting off a social process that's not going to be reversed. The years between now and 2012 come with a long series of escalations, elevations, and increase in the vibration level of the planet. There will be ups and downs, but the one thing that's most likely to increase is consciousness. Which leads to the last fancy production of Chiron I'll discuss today.


It is tempting to use previous cycles of planets in an attempt to understand what the next cycle will bring, and I'm going to give into that temptation. The previous phase of Chiron in Aquarius, which began Thursday, Jan. 27, 1955, is certainly instructive. This occurred during a Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Cancer, with Mercury in Aquarius opposite Pluto in Leo. This was at the very height of the Cold War, the Red Scare, and the above-ground, domestic testing of the atomic bomb in the Southwestern United States. Dwight Eisenhower, a retired WWII general who could not decide if he wanted to be a Democrat or a Republican when he entered politics a few years earlier, was president.


Life was strict. If you were a mom and your apple pie didn't come out perfect, your husband could call the police and have you arrested.


It was at this time in history that something called the Beat Generation was getting under way. The Beat Generation was both a literary movement and a much wider social movement. The Beats were the generation that brought us the idea of 'finding yourself' as a widespread social phenomenon. They were mostly young people who were rejecting the traditional capitalist values of the day, waging a rebellion that included free expression, forming community, living collectively, and experimenting with states of mind through drugs, spirituality, meditation, drumming and all the things we now take for granted.


Nineteen fifty-five was a huge year in the history of the Beats and the history of the United States and its counterpart, Russia. This was also the year that actor Jimmy Dean died in a car crash at age 24, providing a poignant symbol of lost or sacrificed youth, and reminding all rebels to get a cause. This actually happened. The Civil Rights movement was going into high gear, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. becoming a household name.


The Cold War became completely entrenched with the takeover of the Kremlin by Nikita Krushchev. While the Beat movement had been heating up for years, a poet named Allen Ginsberg had just arrived in San Francisco the year before and was at the time at work on a poem called Howl. Howl is literally a bellow of pain for an entire generation. It begins with the line, "I saw the best minds of my generation..." which is to say, the poet is bearing witness to collective events -- very Aquarian, and truly Chiron in Aquarius.


Ginsberg organized a series of readings in a garage-gallery in autumn 1955, including reading part of his poem, which would soon be considered one of the great works of American poetry. Jack Kerouac (author of 'On the Road', which came later) met the poet Gary Snyder in Berkeley. Lawrence Ferlinghetti launched City Lights Books with his own 'Pictures of a Gone World'. (City Lights still exists and Ferlinghetti is Poet Laureate of San Francisco.)


This was an era in which many things became so obvious you could not miss them unless you climbed into a trash can or hid down in your bomb cellar -- which many people did. While we view the 1950s as a conformist time, that was true for the conformists. The Beats were committed to absolute authenticity in their writing and in their way of living, and had no use for the values that were dragging society into triviality, hypocrisy and materialism. I will (probably) look at some of their writing as a way of understanding Chiron in Aquarius in tomorrow's lead essay at Planet Waves Weekly.


If you'd like to subscribe, go to this link. Subscriptions still include free access to Bridge to the Core, the annual 2005 Planet Waves horoscope, where there is much information about Chiron in Aquarius.


On a historical note, the last day of Chiron in Aquarius was the day that John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, Jan. 20, 1961. When Chiron left Aquarius, what we think of as the 1960s began -- the work of the Beat Generation spread into the wider culture and led to a massive-scale rejection of capitalist values, an uprising against the Vietnam War, and a great experiment in Human Potential -- which was great while it lasted.


All of this week's questions focus on Chiron.