These thoughts arose from a comment Melanie Reinhart made at our Spring Seminar on 'Ancestral Healing: Chiron and the Centaurs' yesterday. She made the observation that Pholus – the second Centaur to be discovered – has a cycle of around 92 years and therefore still operates on a personal level, as many people are now living into their nineties. Nessus, however – the third Centaur to be discovered – has a cycle of around 122 years and so goes well beyond the present lifespan of a human being.
There's been an increasing number of super-centenarians in the last couple of decades but on the whole they haven't lived much beyond the age of 115. I haven't explored this fully, but I have a suspicion that the cycle of Pluto might be a factor here, as they were born when Pluto was at its slowest, staying in a sign for about 30 years. For example, someone born in 1900 would not experience their first Pluto square until they were 63, whereas someone born in 1969 would experience it at 36. There are, of course, many other factors at work here – not the least being the very different lives led by those born around the beginning of the twentieth century compared to our own. Their lives might appear to have been harder, but amongst other things they ate real food and were physically active. I'm not sure that those of us around now will fare so well on processed foods and sedentary lifestyles.
I wonder too if Chiron might have something to do with longevity. He was, after all, immortal and eventually surrendered his immortality so that he could be released from his suffering. Lifespans seem to have increased since he was discovered in the late 1970s. Again, I haven't looked into this in any depth.
(If Pluto seems out of place here, well no it isn't. Most of the Centaurs have orbits very much like Pluto's – very elliptical and highly inclined to the ecliptic. Centaurs are generally thought to be escapees from the Kuiper Belt, drawn in to the Solar System by Neptune. The Kuiper Belt is Pluto's realm, therefore the Centaurs can be viewed as Pluto's emissaries. It's thought that the Centaurs will not be permanent residents in the Solar System – so we should perhaps ponder why they're making their presence known to us now).
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But back to Nessus. There is one person who has lived long enough to experience a Nessus return. Her name was Jeanne Calment, she was born in Arles, France on 21 February 1875 and she died 122 years and 164 days later (on 4 August 1997), again in Arles. Her birth data has been verified and she is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest-living person. I had looked at her chart in the past as longevity is a theme in my family (both sides), but it was only last night that I found a time of birth for her on Astrodatabank. To my astonishment, I discovered she had Nessus on the Midheaven! In fact, she has a very Centauric chart as she also has Pholus conjunct Saturn and Chiron conjunct her North Node.
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She had her Nessus return on 9 January 1997, about six weeks before her 122nd birthday. Interestingly, Pluto was quite close to Nessus in the return chart.
Sadly, Mme Calment outlived both her only daughter (who died, aged 35, from illness) and her only grandson (who died, aged 36, following an accident) so if she possessed a longevity gene it hasn't survived.
I don't want to say any more about her chart. I just found such a prominent Nessus in the chart of the only person to have had a Nessus return quite amazing.
You can read more about her life here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Calment.