Working with ‘The Weirdoes’
Some notes by Melanie Reinhart
Firstly, this article is not about working with ‘weird’ clients, or ‘weird’ colleagues, as the title might seem to imply! The term ‘Weirdoes’ was affectionately coined during a workshop I co-taught with Steven Forrest in 2008, where our focus was on the more unusual celestial objects, mostly the Centaurs and TNOs.1
The discovery of Chiron in 1977 brought the first Weirdo into view. In the early 1990s, a veritable ‘herd’ of similar objects appeared, now officially classified as ‘Centaurs’. Then came the ‘TNOs’ – the Trans-Neptunian Objects – whose orbits, as their name suggests, are beyond that of Neptune. This short article offers some practical notes on how to learn about them. We have millennia of accumulated tradition about the planets, houses and signs, but when we approach these newcomers we have very little to go on. This is what makes the Weirdos exciting to work with. However, put more accurately, it is actually they who work with us. Richard Tarnas perfectly described this process with the evocative phrase below, in response to a student asking how we can tell what to work with in a chart:
‘In astrology, you can only work with what is burnished into your soul’.2
Here is an example of such a process. During the early 1990s, objects similar to Chiron began to be discovered, and I confess I just ignored them at first. Having spent many years researching Chiron, I felt I’d had enough centaurs for a while. However, apparently they had other ideas! In 1995 I met Dieter Koch, co-author with Robert von Heeren of the definitive book on Pholus.3 And … this ‘so happened’ to be the very week in which Uranus was conjunct my own natal Pholus, which is in the 3rd house! Through the teachings I received from Dieter during many wonderful conversations, I was catapulted into another round of intensive study, this time about Pholus and Nessus. So the basic, almost ridiculously simple, astrological symbolism cued in as I was ‘awakened’ (transiting Uranus) to new ideas (in the 3rd house) by one of the authors (3rd house) of the source material on Pholus (my natal Phous in the 3rd house). Additionally, Dieter and I both have Sun and Mercury in Gemini, bringing delight in dialogue (3rd house). I had also made a short journey (3rd house) from England to be in Switzerland. And Gemini is the ‘natural ruler’ of the 3rd house …
As this was the 3rd conjunction from Uranus, I looked up the previous two to see what had happened. Indeed, I found events of great personal significance, written up extensively in my journal, and which immediately began to tally with the mythology. A similar, but even more dramatic story unfolded around the object 1993HA2, eventually named ‘Nessus’.4
In each case, it was the basic astrology which called my attention, combined with the timing, so that these objects were ‘burnished into my soul’.
The numinosity of the experience of suddenly seeing ‘something’ at work within the astrology which was totally unfamiliar, yet unmistakeably reflected in the symbolism and traceable through the precision of transit activity, affected me deeply. From then on, it was not difficult to make the commitment to do whatever work was necessary in order to better understand, describe and delineate what was going on. A steady stream of clients followed, with significant Pholus and/or Nessus contacts in their horoscopes, and who had the awareness to be able to ‘pick up the trails’ I was exploring with them. The process of ‘being taught’ was underway.
Here are some suggestions as to how to go about befriending these ‘wild critters’ in the sky!
The Centaurs and TNOs are not planets and never will be, so some of the ways we are used to thinking about planets are simply not relevant. Take, for example, the question of rulership. Eloquent cases can be made for an object’s rulership of a particular sign,5 but you may find the dispositorship more useful. For example, with Chiron in Pisces, look to the house and sign positions of Jupiter and Neptune for more information about the context of the process. However, treat the ‘Weirdoes’ like planets, exploring their house, sign and aspects.
Bring it home.
Begin with your own natal chart. This is important, as you will find these objects offer a depth reflection of movements within the soul; their energies, qualities and themes become revealed through your on-going awareness, personal enquiry and committed curiosity. In other words, it is your connection with your own psycho-spiritual process that provides the raw material which will nourish your understanding. The Centaurs and TNOs are dwellers in the celestial ‘Underworld’, the realms of Pluto and beyond, the realm of depth and transformation, and so are accessible to those of us who are vocated in these dimensions.
Get the astro-facts.
Rather than crowding the chart with too much information, consider using Solar Fire’s ‘Extra Ring’ facility, and put a selection of Weirdoes in there, with the ‘normal’ planets in the middle. An increasing number of astrology programmes and websites will calculate the Weirdoes.6
Look for the obvious and keep it simple.
At first, just work with conjunctions and oppositions. Any Weirdo conjunct a planet or Angle in your chart is likely to ‘speak’, given a chance. Use very small orbs, maximum 2° at first. Once an object comes to life for you, the orbs can be widened and other aspects can be considered.
This means not trying to work with 30 or 40 new objects at the same time. Wait until one ‘calls you’. How does this happen? Simply, it chooses you. I’ve given an example above, but your stories of discovery will be unique to your own process.
The ‘gold standard’ of this kind of research. If you have a very active imagination, you can make ‘anything seem to mean anything’ in astrology. But you can’t fake the timing of transits! When an event occurs, inner or outer, which unmistakeably partakes of the symbolic field you are focusing on, it is always an unforgettable experience. For example, when I was first ‘called’ by Chiron, a client came to see me who’d been wounded in his thigh. Just like in the myth, and the story of the Fisher King! Of course, the wound had occurred in a riding accident when Chiron by transit was opposite natal Chiron. And no, I’m not making this up. Ask anyone who works regularly with Chiron, and you will hear similar stories of the literalness with which the symbolism can be revealed.
‘What does it mean’?
Resist the compulsion to ‘figure out what it means’ and instead wait for the object to speak to you. Listen and attune. I sometimes think of the planets and other celestial objects as music, with each vibrating at its own frequency like the sympathetic strings in a sitar. Or like a radio station. If you want to hear ‘Radio Pholus’, for example, tune the dial to this station!
Engage your left-brain.
There is an enormous amount of ‘left-brain’ astronomical information out there about the Weirdos. Don’t let that put you off. Our great art of astrology depends on the interchange between right and left brains ways of perceiving and thinking, like the two snakes coiling around the magical staff of Hermes, our ‘Patron Saint’. Wikipedia is a great starting place. Find out facts, but be aware that these can change as research progresses. In particular check the following:
- Orbit length and inclination to the Ecliptic
- Perihelion and aphelion
- Any other quirks. For example, the orbit of Orcus almost exactly mirrors the orbit of Pluto, and Chariklo (wife of Chiron in the mythology) has the most stable of all the Centaur orbits so far, while Chiron has the most unstable!7
Engage your right-brain.
If you keep your intuition open while you collect information, register personal significance and follow astrological trails like transits, your right brain will have plenty to work and play with. Nourish this through the following:
- Research the mythology of the name of the object
- Contemplate its themes
- Do active imagination work in your journal
- Don’t be afraid to follow intuitive leaps. For example, it was when I made the connection between Orcus the TNO, and the dolphin species called the Orca that the symbolism started coming alive in my own process and manifesting in clients’ stories.
- Keep notes. Bring on the Virgo qualities in your chart for this, whether or not you have planets there! Research, record, notate, check, verify, contemplate, study, think, collect, collate. Notice I’ve not listed the word ‘prove’, and I invite you to consider why not!
Follow world events which ‘capture your imagination’.
These do sometimes offer spectacular ‘showings’ but if you are not connected with the symbolic terrain relating to the Weirdo involved, you will not notice. For example, my ‘tag-line’ for Pholus is ‘The Lid Comes Off’. The most recent iconic image of this must surely be the nuclear reactor at Fukushima exploding, blowing its lid off over the station of Pholus8, from March 11th, 2011.
Pholus was then at 17°54’ Sagittarius, conjunct within 1°20’ of the I.C. of the Hiroshima Bomb chart (16°30’). See below.
Pholus was stationary on March 18th, then passed 17°54’ again on March 23rd 2011.
The central ring, above, is the horoscope of the nuclear explosion at Hiroshima, and the outer ring shows the transits for March 12th, 2011. Notice above that there is a VERY close conjunction between Pholus and Hylonome. The story of the female centaur Hylonome (17°27' Sagittarius) is a poignant one. She was beloved of the centaur Cyllarus, and when he was killed in a battle, in the extremity of her grief she in turn killed herself by falling on his sword. While it would not be correct to say that Hylonome 'signifies' suicide, it is often prominent where this theme is present.
As I write, Pholus is at 17°14’ Sagittarius, making a return visit to this degree (exact on November 9th 2012), and there has just been a hoax text message and Email reported concerning Fukushima, claiming to be from the BBC (22nd October 2012).9 This had quickly escalated into reports of fire, plumes of radiation and a possible mass extinction event.10
In the mythology of the Centaur Pholus, he was the son of Silenus, story-teller of the gods and teacher of none less than Dionysus, god of wine and ecstasy, who became patron of the theatre (which 'legitimises' the play of the imagination. The bardic gift of elaboration and oracular utterance, whose shadow side is mendacity, can be seen in the ‘escalatory’ process of the Centaur Pholus, where there is ‘small cause, big effect’, to quote the words of Robert von Heeren. Hoax or not, this ‘return event’ is bringing the seriousness of the situation into the public eye again. Oracles are well-known for speaking in riddles …
A Final Metalogue
Once upon a time, the stars spoke to mankind, as Rudolf Steiner notes.11 He also says that they stopped speaking to us. I’m not sure about that. I feel it’s more likely that we forgot how to listen. What would it take for this communication once again to be possible? Perhaps very little. Perhaps just willingness to listen. The Earth is covered by a sparkling mantle of beautiful stars, planets and other celestial objects. Not all can be seen with the naked eye, but they can be felt in the silence of wonder and curiosity. They do communicate. After all, how did our astrological ancestors ‘figure out’ what Venus ‘meant’? Or Saturn, Mars or Jupiter? Before the books? It is our ‘felt connection’ with the planetary energies and the other dimensions which they inhabit and represent that enables an on-going learning process to take place.
I leave you with a metalogue - ‘That which we are speaking about is also arising’. After typing the last sentence, I opened my browser, and a BBC newsflash came up, updated 8.02am GMT.12 It’s now exactly 8.02pm on October 17th 2012, Bali time, where I am writing from. Seriously. A new Exo-planet has been announced, orbiting around Alpha Centauri B, our nearest starry neighbour. There’s that 3rd house again, now referring to celestial neighbours!
Alpha Centauri B is also the front hoof of the centaur in the constellation of Centaurus, in which Chiron was immortalized!
Make of that what you will … to me, it is a reminder that the critters are speaking and perhaps that it makes them frolic happily when we listen!
5. See Reinhart, Melanie: Chiron and the Healing Journey, Penguin Arkana 1989, extensively revised edition Starwalker Press 2010. These two editions of the book offer very different explorations of the question of rulership.
10. For a fuller discussion of the issue, see also http://lucas2012infos.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/removingtheshackles-fukushima-update-about-explosion-hoax-or-not-23-october-2012/
11. Translated from the German original by Graham Hope, with minor collaboration from myself. Sterne Sprachen einst zu Menschen first appeared in Wahrspruchworte by Rudolf Steiner, Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland, 1922.
12. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19959531 Update 22.12.2013 - doubts cast on the viability of this 'discovery'. See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/science/space/scientists-cast-doubt-on-the-closest-exoplanet.html?_r=0 This raises some fascinating questions about the metalogue described above ... do you think this 'invalidates' it? If so, why? And if not, why not? -:)