Sunday, 15 September 2013


One of the good things about giving a talk is that you learn a lot about your subject as you prepare for it. Another is that people's responses can bring to your attention something you've noticed but haven't really taken into account. I mentioned one of these at the end of the last post – namely the fact that all three female Centaurs have been moving through Sagittarius for the last couple of years and opposing various planets in my natal chart during that time.

I was aware that Hylonome was discovered during the later stages of the Uranus-Neptune conjunction but I hadn't given it much thought. However, when someone flagged it up I thought 'Yes, of course – these are the planets she moves between!' Later on, in a quiet moment, an image suddenly came to me of Hylonome emerging from the union of these two planets. As I reflected on this, I began to see similarities to the emergence of foam-born Aphrodite/Venus from the sea (Neptune) after Uranus' severed genitals had been cast into it. Venus, a lower octave of Neptune, is about relating to others. Does this have any bearing on how Hylonome functions?

Let's begin with a few of her vital statistics. Hylonome was the first of the female Centaurs to be discovered and is the furthest from the Sun. She orbits between Uranus and Neptune, which she goes just a little bit beyond for a brief period, so she has no contact with any of the personal or social planets. She was discovered on 27 February 1995 and it takes around 125-6 years for her to complete an orbit. 

(Click to enlarge)
 The Uranus-Neptune conjunction heralded many technological innovations during the 1990s, including the World Wide Web and the Hubble telescope, which has brought us so many amazing images from deepest space. Two events that happened in 1992, shortly before the first exact conjunction, were the discovery that Chiron was not alone, leading to a whole new category of minor bodies; and – with the Kuiper Belt's existence confirmed – that Pluto was not alone, a discovery which contributed to his eventual demotion to dwarf planet status. (I believe both these events have major implications for astrology).

But there's more to the Uranus-Neptune cycle than change and technological innovation. Neptune is about mass consciousness and interconnectedness. In this context, Neptune is asking how you can use these changes and inventions for the good of all. One example of this is the humanitarian response to the Asian tsunami in 2004, which if you remember happened over Christmas when all our politicians were on holiday. While they struggled to get back and get to grips with the scale of what had happened, people around the world were fund-raising or getting involved in any way they could. Neptune provided the compassion, Uranus the technological means of bringing it to mass consciousness.

Does any of this relate to Hylonome? Let's take a look at her story, which is short and tragic. She is a young and beautiful centaur, deeply in love with a handsome young centaur named Cyllarus who is killed when fighting breaks out between the Lapiths and Centaurs at Pirithous' wedding. Grief-stricken, she pulls out the arrow that killed him and falls on it herself. (I said it was short!).

Serennu has given a very interesting evaluation of Hylonome's story ( original no longer seems to be available). She points out that Mars is retrograde in Leo in Hylonome's discovery chart, which could represent a self-inflicted attack to the heart. But she also says that Hylonome's heart was pierced before she fell on the arrow, because it happened as soon as she saw Cyllarus lying there dead. By falling on the arrow she was simply acting out on a physical level what had already happened on an energetic one. This suggests that Hylonome is deeply intuitive, picking up all the vibes around her and feeling them in her body. As such, if Hylonome is working though you, you need to cultivate a gap between feeling and doing or your actions might not turn out well. If you're overly sensitive, you can take on the pain of the world and you simply won't be able to function at all. However, if you can keep a sense of proportion you can use your empathy or compassion for the greater good.

This led me to wonder when the expression 'I feel your pain' came into general use. If you google it, the answer you get is that Bill Clinton used it on 26 March 1992 during his first presidential campaign. Of course, he wasn't the first person to utter the phrase in public but that's the one that has stayed in the public's memory. If you dig more deeply, you discover that he said it out of exasperation rather than empathy (he was being harangued by an AIDS activist, and Clinton gave as good as he got). But such is the power of the image-making machine – another manifestation of Uranus-Neptune – that it's now remembered as showing Bill's ability to empathise. Here's the chart (time unknown but I've assumed it was in the evening):

(Click to enlarge)
Note that the only aspects Hylonome makes are an opposition to Venus and a trine to Uranus-Neptune (remember the Birth of Venus earlier?). Incidentally, Hylonome was in exactly the same relationship to both Venus and Uranus-Neptune at their first exact conjunction less than a year later, on 2 February 1993.

So Hylonome can be empathic, or paralysed by grief. There is something of Miss Havisham about her – a fictional character from Dickens whose life stops when she discovers she's been jilted shortly before she's due to be wed. She orders all the clocks in her mansion to be stopped at twenty to nine (the moment the news reached her) and from thereon lives a twilight existence, still clad in her wedding gown and with the wedding feast mouldering away on the table decades later. In fact, there's a condition known as 'the Miss Havisham effect' for people who suffer a painful longing for lost love, and which can become an addictive pleasure. Hylonome also carries the feeling of being the tragic, or sacrificial, victim. It can range from the mild but pathetic 'poor me I'm looking for sympathy' to the person for whom grief is an event and not a process; their life effectively ends when a tragic event occurs, the body remaining but the heart and soul no longer present, as with Miss Havisham. It may be that people who campaign for social justice after a tragedy has befallen their family are manifesting the positive side of Hylonome (Uranus-Neptune: acting for the greater good after their own life has been changed forever). Although there've been many such cases in recent years, I haven't been able to test this theory as their birth data isn't available. Indeed, all of this is still very much work in progress.

Just one or two other things I'd like to mention. There's a Centaur named Cyllarus and it would seem natural to look at both him and Hylonome together in a chart. However, I haven't felt drawn to work with Cyllarus so I haven't done any work with them as a pair. I've found a strong bond between Hylonome and Nessus, though. Their orbits are a similar length, they were very close to each other for much of the twentieth century and they both seem to deal with raw, indeed, visceral, emotions. Whereas Hylonome is about deep grief, Nessus is about rage and a desire for revenge which stretches beyond the grave. (I have southern Mediterranean blood in me – I am no stranger to these themes!). Another interesting thing about this pair is that over the last four hundred years the furthest apart they've been is a sextile, apart from in the Noughties when they reached the giddy heights of a quintile. I don't know whether this means they always move in tandem or that their cycle is so vast we're only seeing a small part of it. I mentioned the relationship between this pair in my talk but, fascinating though it is, it would take too long to go into here.

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