By Mary Plumb | July 11, 2011
I have been thinking a lot about the Minor Planets, Nessus and Pholus, discovered in the 1990s. They are named for mythological centaurs and are connected to the most gifted centaur, Chiron. Chiron was discovered in 1977 and traveled alone until his companions began to be sighted. There are now many (close to 100) other new minor planets, but Nessus and Pholus were the first to be discovered. They share some of Chiron’s unique astronomical properties; like Chiron, they come from outside our solar system and have highly elliptical orbits.
Melanie Reinhart writes about Nessus and Pholus in each of her newly revised books. I wrote a review of the new edition (2009) of her book, Chiron and the Healing Journey, in TMA Feb/March 2011. To quote from that review:
“Reinhart remains at the vanguard of those astrologers who are integrating the newer celestial objects that “may enter our inner space, ‘visiting’ us for a time.” These “visitors,” which include Chiron and the other Centauric bodies, have their origins in the Kuiper Belt, discovered in the early 1990s. Pluto is the most famous object now thought by astronomers to have originated there.” (1)
(Long time readers may remember early articles in TMA. In January 1996, Robert von Heeren wrote New Discoveries beyond the Orbits of Neptune and Pluto, and in July 1996, von Heeren and Dieter Koch together wrote The New Planet Pholus.)
My own thinking on Nessus and Pholus has been directly influenced by Melanie Reinhart, whom I first heard teaching on these two new bodies at UAC in Orlando in 2002. (My initial reaction to these guys was, oh no, more trouble. I knew she was on to something, but it took some time before I began to recognize them at work. At the moment, Nessus and Pholus are all over the place in my life, but as astrologers know, that’s the way it is with archetypes.)
Their myths are complex and evocative (I’ll include some links below), but, for now, suffice it to say that these companions to Chiron are also involved with the healing and transformation of some deep, dark aspects of our shared human experience. They seem to be connected to the ancestral realms and generational healing, something I have seen over and over again in client work. I have found that often the most painful and difficult experiences we go through can only be understood as having a connection to that invisible yet ever present realm of the ancestors. Many people are drawn now to shamanic healing practices and soul retrieval work. Although methods and approaches vary, I have found that the astrological Nessus and Pholus add a profound layer of understanding to the nature of certain types of extraordinary experiences that we have.
Nessus is connected to the ripening of cycles of karma, sometimes with a theme of inappropriate (or what appears to be inappropriate) sexual contact, or physical or psychological abuse.
Melanie Reinhart has a key phrase for Nessus: “The buck stops here.” I had a client recently with transiting Nessus prominent in the horoscope. He is a very skilled energy worker and healer, so I knew we could talk about some of the themes that might be emerging with Nessus so visible in his current life. He actually told me that a large buck had recently been stopping in his yard everyday for what seemed like a rest. (This gentleman has Nessus prominent in the natal chart; that placement, along with me knowing him well, offered on opening to discuss Nessus. It’s not something I typically bring up in a session.)
In myth, Pholus is the guardian of a special wine that gets uncorked, creating a temporarily wildly intoxicating and chaotic situation. It can be seen as describing a process that gets “uncorked” or released, and it cannot be put back. Reinhart says of Pholus: “The lid comes off.”
I had a client this week who has become embroiled in a very difficult and painful situation, marked very poignantly by the presence of both Nessus and Pholus in his key family members’ natal, solar return, and progressed charts. He said, “I just want things to go back to the way they were.”
Pholus is now active by transit. (2) It is currently at 14° Sagittarius, opposed by transiting Mars at 14° Gemini. In this story, things are not going “to go back.” A process has been unleashed and will continue to unfold. The notion of a heretofore hidden ancestral pattern creates a large enough container to help us begin to work with this situation in a way that will hopefully lead to a deep transformation and healing for all involved.
In my own life and listening to clients, I sometimes get the feeling that we are embarking on a massive soul retrieval project on planet earth. Sometimes I think, how much more healing can there possibly be? I’ve found that contemplation of Nessus and Pholus have added a very helpful layer of understanding to our often complex and multi-faceted experiences.
Here are some web sites for those curious to pursue the wild and, at times, marauding and intoxicating centaurs:
Zane Stein has been tracking Chiron since its discovery in 1977. His site is a vast collection of resources on Chiron and the newly discovered bodies. It’s a big site — to focus on Nessus and Pholus, read his telling of their myths here and here. (links)
His section on Chiron is comprehensive, with contributions from many other writers.
Eric Francis is also a wise and in-the-moment observer of the centaurs. As an introduction, he has a fine piece on Nessus, part of his Small World Stories.
And here’s a link to a recent interview he did with Melanie on Nessus (and another centaur, Asbolus).
And, most currently, here’s Eric’s amazing article on the Casey Anthony case. (This is premium content, posted here courtesy of Planet Waves. Many thanks, Eric.)
Robert von Heeren began The Centaur Research Project in 1997. The site has articles, ephemeredes, and lots of other astronomical and orbital data.
Melanie Reinhart’s site has an easy-to-understand article on Nessus and Pholus, which explains her key phrases. (When you get to the home page, click on articles on the left, then ‘by Melanie Reinhart’, then scroll down to All Change Please.)
The Maverick Medicine Babe has a quote from Melanie’s book on Chiron and other related links.
(1) Melanie Reinhart has also just published a new (2011) edition of her 1996 book, Saturn, Chiron and the Centaurs: To the Edge and Beyond.
(2) Donna Cunningham’s new blog is on Jaycee Dugard. The young woman gave an interview on ABC yesterday. “She spoke out just days before her memoir, ‘A Stolen Life,’ is scheduled to be released.” Dugard Interview ABC.
Although Donna doesn’t include the centaurs in her analysis, their presence is obvious in the nature of her story. If I’m up to it, I may write about it next week.