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By Candy Hillenbrand

Contents

Introduction

Sources of Meaning for Chiron

Enter the Centaur

Ken Wilber's "Spectrum of Consciousness"

Centauric Consciousness

Centauric Consciousness and the Humanistic Movement: The Implications for Astrology

A Centauric-Chironic Look at the Chart of Dane Rudhyar: The Grandfather of Humanistic Astrology

An Expanded View of Chiron?

The Future

 

Introduction

Whenever we think or speak of Chiron, the image of the "wounded healer" invariably comes to mind. In the short space of the twenty-two years since Chiron's discovery on All Saints Day, November 1st, 1977, astrologers have eagerly embraced this particular face of the Chiron archetype. The wound dominates our Chironic landscape, as does the preoccupation with healing that wound. The purpose of this article is to attempt to expand Chiron's territory by penetrating its labyrinthine domain more deeply.

Debate abounds in astrological circles not simply about Chiron's meaning, but whether it should be included in the chart at all. Some look to Chiron with an almost religious sense of awe and reverence. Others dismiss it as naught but an inconsequential lump of rock or, worse still, ice, and of no more astrological significance than a stray bit of space junk. There is also much debate about Chiron's rulership. Virgo and Sagittarius have been favoured as likely candidates for rulership status, with others postulating Libra and also Scorpio. There is the Sector-Rulership theory and the No-Rulership theory and of course, The Rulership-of-Everything theory.

The study of Chiron has provided astrologers with the unique opportunity to learn about a newly discovered body in space from the ground up. Chiron is the only major body that has been discovered in our time, and we have been able to watch it unfold before us from the beginning (see discovery data at end of article). We are caught very much in the present with Chiron. There is no ancient body of knowledge, based on many years of empirical observation, upon which we can rely for our interpretive meanings. We must construct a new meaning in the here and now. To this end, I will draw on the work of contemporary American philosopher, Ken Wilber, and his appropriately named theory of a "centauric" level of consciousness. I will explore the links between this centauric consciousness and current understanding of the astrological Chiron, with a particular focus on the Humanistic movement and the natal chart of Dane Rudhyar, the Grandfather of Humanistic Astrology. 

Sources of Meaning for Chiron

All this surely begs some elementary questions: How and from where do we derive the meaning of a new astrological body, and what are the sources of the meanings we attribute to Chiron? It is clear that we largely rely on the principle of synchronicity, the law of correspondences, and the notions of connectivity and relatedness to 'divine' our astrological meanings. Of course, thrown into the mix is also a substantial dollop of empirical observation, a measure of quantitative research, and sprinklings of anecdotal findings. The meanings we derive are based on the interpretation of all of the above, which, as post-modern thinking explains, is by its very nature, context-bound, subjective, and coloured by the interpreter's sociocultural biases and world view.

In Chiron's case, we have drawn meaning from numerous sources, beginning with the astronomy of the body, to come up with qualities like "the Rainbow Bridge" and "the Maverick." [1] It is the highly elliptical and eccentric nature of Chiron's orbit, and the belief on the part of some astronomers that Chiron is a temporary visitor from outside our solar system, that has led to its "Maverick" status. The peculiarities of Chiron's orbital path between Saturn and Uranus [2] have likewise prompted astrologers to conceptualize Chiron as a link or bridge between the inner or personal planets and the outer or collective planets. This theme has been reinforced by the Sabian Symbol for Chiron's position in its discovery chart: "A Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow", and it appears to be from here that the "Rainbow Bridge" metaphor has sprung. [3] We have also searched for correspondences with the cultural and socio-political events and trends that were active at the time of Chiron's discovery, including the emergence of the holistic healing movement and the internet, and have gleaned meanings associated with networking, healing and holism.

Most importantly, we have looked at the name chosen for the body by its discoverer, Charles Kowal, which naturally led us to explore the ancient mythology of the legendary Chiron. From this story we have drawn the meanings of wounded healer, mentor, and teacher of heroes. And from here we have extrapolated and grafted other related meanings onto our evolving Chironic body of knowledge, resulting in a smorgasboard that reads somewhat like a stream-of-consciousness brainstorming session: Problem-solving, questing, suffering, wounding, integrating, healing, networking, compassion, reconciliation, whole-maker, shaman, magician, initiator, hero, martyr, Christ figure, priest, hierophant, adept, oracle, philosopher, the astrologer's astrologer, and round and round we go. You name it, Chiron does it! And yet a common thread may link them all.

Overall, it seems that much of our current body of meaning surrounding the Chiron archetype has been distilled from the Greco-Roman myth of Chiron, wise and kindly King of the Centaurs. Interpretations of the astrological Chiron have tended to centre largely around the motif of the "Wounded Healer," an analogy drawn directly from the story of Chiron's ill-fated encounter with a wounding arrow, whether self-inflicted or at the hands of his friend Hercules. Certainly, any astrologer who has worked with Chiron cannot help but notice the correspondences between Chiron's position in the birth chart and what is frequently experienced as an area of wounding, pain, and suffering of some deep and potent sort. And yet, many will sooner or later also encounter those who do not feel wounded in that area, or those whose sense of wounding appears to be more closely associated with Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto.

If the Wounded Healer, as an astrological archetype for Chiron, does not apply to all of us, then what does? Can we find a more universal archetype for Chiron, a more essential meaning? Some have attempted to broaden the meaning base of Chiron to make allowances for those who cannot relate to the Wounded Healer archetype. The "wounded one" is transmuted into the "healer" is transmuted into the "teacher" or "mentor." We may substitute "teaching" for "healing" if the "wounded" cap doesn’t fit. We may say that the meaning of Chiron lies in going beyond our pain, embracing our pain, transcending our pain, giving meaning to our suffering, and ultimately using it to help others. We may say that Chiron is more about love and compassion and forgiveness than about wounding and suffering.

Yet something remains missing in these attempts to shift the focus and to dress Chiron in a more user-friendly garb. However much we try to encompass a wider view of Chiron, it seems we remain bound by the story of Chiron's irreconcilable wounding and his release only through death. Chiron's parentage has also been held aloft as a reinforcement of this wounding theme. His rejecting mother and absent father apparently have a lot to answer for in stamping Chiron with his primal wound. Back of everything is the unhealable wound, the suppurating sore, that which cannot be healed. It has been described variously as the collective wound, the karmic wound, that which is simply accidental, fated, unfair, and about which nothing can be done. The only solution, it seems, is death.

Interpretations of the meaning of Chiron's death vary. Some say that Chiron gave up his immortality to relieve Prometheus's suffering. The implication is that it was an altruistic act of self-sacrifice and relinquishment emanating from the One who so empathized with the suffering of others. Barbara Hand Clow, for example, writes that "Chiron gave himself willingly so that the fire could be released from the Underworld by Prometheus."[4] Still other readings of the myth look at it more from Prometheus's perspective. They stress that Chiron regretted his immortality, that he raged in his agony, fervently wishing to die, and that it was Prometheus who consented to take on the burden of the Centaur's immortality. Ultimately, all the stories agree that Chiron was most grateful to die. Has there been a tendency to romanticize Chiron's nature and qualities? Why have we fashioned him into a wounded, self-sacrificing, martyr hero? Could this be a product of our Judeo-Christian world view? Are there other ways to interpret this myth, other avenues from which to draw meaning and understanding of Chiron?

Enter the Centaur

The powerful imagery of the Centaur, the half-man and half-horse, has led some astrologers to theorize that Chiron symbolizes the fundamental conflict or split between mind and body, intellect and instinct, the animal self and the spiritual self. How to heal that split has been the preoccupation of quite a number of astrologer-healers.

Some years ago I discovered that Ken Wilber, whose remarkable books reflect a synthesis of a vast array of academic disciplines and spiritual traditions, had written at length about what he calls the "Centaur Level" of consciousness. I noted some interesting parallels between what Wilber had to say about this Centaur consciousness and what astrologers were saying about Chiron. Briefly for now, Wilber associates "Centauric consciousness" with a search for meaning, self-actualization, freedom, integration, and autonomy.

In keeping with the ubiquitous synchronicity principle, I wondered whether some profound insights might lie within Wilber's material that could add to our understanding of the astrological Chiron. In presenting Wilber's notion of "Centauric consciousness," my aim, therefore, is to explore the connections and parallels with the astrological Chiron in the hope that we may be able to amplify its meaning in the birth chart.

Ken Wilber's "Spectrum of Consciousness"

Ken Wilber's first book, A Spectrum of Consciousness, appeared in 1977, the year of Chiron's discovery, and is credited with officially ushering in the transpersonal psychology revolution. Aptly synchronistic! According to Rowan, Wilber's early work "threw a flood of light" on the entire field of consciousness studies.[5]

Wilber has dissected, criticized, and integrated many traditions and disciplines, from both the East and the West — including prehistory, mythology, psychology, philosophy, religion, science, anthropology, sociology, and more — to come up with an all-encompassing or integral approach to the theory of human evolution, human development, the evolution of consciousness, and the nature of the "self."

Wilber outlines a number of stages of development in what he calls a spectrum approach to consciousness. Throughout his many books, he has conceptualized this spectrum in a variety of ways, presenting numerous models, maps, and diagrams, including anything from several to 17 levels, for within each level also lies numerous sub-levels.

It is important to note that Wilber's model of the evolution of human consciousness is both holarchical (embracing holism within hierarchy, or a hierarchy of wholes) and cyclic insofar as it depicts life as constituting a curve with an outward movement and an inward movement.[6] There are obvious limitations in attempting to represent this material on a linear table. Any attempt to distill Wilber's work carries with it the risk of omission or gross oversimplification. And yet, some form of simplification is necessary to present Wilber's material on the Centaur within a meaningful and relevant context, and to render it more bite-sized. The reader is directed to the original works for further study (see References and Notes).

Table 1 outlines "The Spectrum of Consciousness" from the perspective of an overall model of Human Evolution, depicting the evolutionary movement from Matter to Body to Mind to Soul to Spirit.[7] It synthesizes material from a number of Wilber's books.

Table 1 - The Spectrum of Consciousness -- from the Human Evolution Perspective

Level of Consciousness

Type of Cognition (Way of Knowing)

Perception of Body/Mind relationship

First Historical Appearance

Mythical Beings

Realm of Development

Nature

Matter

Uroboric Archaic Protoplasmic

No separation Fusion

Typhon - half man, half snake

 

Sub-conscious Pre-personal Pre-rational

Body

Body

Typhonic Magical

Body & mind undifferentiated

200,000 years ago

Early Mind

 

Mind

Verbal Mythical Membership

Body and mind separate

 

Self-conscious Personal Rational

Advanced Mind

Rational Mental-egoic

Lesion between body & mind

2nd Millennium BCE

Centaur

Total Bodymind

Existential

Integration of body & mind

Europe in 1600s (Florence)

Centaur - half man, half horse

Psychic

 

Soul

Shamanistic

 

 

Non-dual awareness

 

 

*Pegasus? - part angel, part man, part horse

 

 

 

 

Super-conscious Trans-personal Trans-rational

Subtle

Saintly

Causal

 

Spirit

Sagely

Ultimate

Absolute

* Hypothetical only - CH.

From our protoplasmic origins, man/woman has evolved first a body, then an ego or mind, and now we are only just entering what Wilber refers to as the "Centaur" stage of evolution. At this stage, "mind and body, after being clearly differentiated, are then brought into a higher-order integration."[8] Interestingly, it is in this mythic centaur beast, half-human and half-horse, that Wilber has found an apt symbol to describe this phase wherein mind and body become integrated.

It is unclear as to Wilber's exact source of the Centaur image, although he acknowledges that he shares its use with others, including Hubert Benoit and Erik Erikson.[9] According to Wilber, the "Centaur period" is only just beginning in historical terms, although its earliest origins were found in the "flowering of Humanistic understanding" in the 1600s in Europe, especially in Florence, and is now peaking with the present-day Humanistic psychology and Existential philosophy movements.[10] Wilber believes that the majority of humankind is still operating on the Mental, or Egoic, level, while only a few have attained Centauric consciousness. Those who have attained the latter, he says, are now becoming receptive to the deeper, Psychic level, the first of the transpersonal levels.

There are many layers to the spectrum of consciousness and various levels within levels. Table 2 focuses on a smaller portion of the spectrum with particular relevance to the field of psychology [11] and, by association, astrology. Like Table 1, it is a synthesis of material from a number of Wilber's books.

Table 2 - The Spectrum of Consciousness -- From the Psychological Perspective

Level of Consciousness

Dualisms

Splits

Cognition

Therapies

Aim

Persona/Shadow

Quaternary - Persona vs. Shadow

Persona vs. shadow

Feels divorced from parts of one's own psyche (personae).

Simple counselling, Supportive therapy

To face the shadow. To integrate personae.

Ego

Mind

Tertiary - Mind vs. body

Psyche (ego, mind) vs. soma (body)

Horse-man (ego) divorced from his horse (body). Centaur is broken, body abandoned, mind split from body.

Psychoanalysis, Psychodrama, Transactional Analysis, Reality Therapy, Ego Psychology

To heal the quaternary split between persona & shadow to give the whole psyche. Creating healthy egos, integrating projections, dealing with neuroses, etc.

Biosocial Bands

Family Therapy, Social Psychology

Existential (Centaur or Total Organism)

Mind and Body

Primary - Self vs. other. Secondary - Life vs. death; Being vs. non-being

Total organism vs. environment (Inside vs. outside). Past vs. future Life vs. death

Feels self to be a mind-body unity (a Centaur).

Vision-logic

Bioenergetic Analysis, Rogerian Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Existential Analysis, Logotherapy, Humanistic Psychology, Exoteric religion

To heal the tertiary split between the whole psyche and the body, to give the whole organism. Self-actualization, autonomy, freedom, spontaneous will, intentionality.

Transpersonal Bands

Jung's Analytical Psychology, Psychosynthesis, Maslow, Progoff

Mind (Unity Consciousness)

Mind and Body and the rest of the Universe

No dualism

 

 

 

 

No split

Non-dual awareness

Mysticism

Unity with the One?

Vedanta Hinduism, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Taoism, Esoteric Islam, Esoteric Christianity, Esoteric Judaism

To heal the primary split between the whole organism and the environment, to give the entire universe.

 

Consistent with his synthetic approach, Wilber emphasizes that each therapy has its place in the spectrum of consciousness, each addressing a different level of the spectrum. Each level is also generated by a particular "dualism-repression-projection" or the "threefold process of maya". According to Wilber, we begin with Unity, "no boundary" awareness or the "non-dual void". With rational thought, enters duality, and hence unity becomes repressed and is projected as a multiplicity of separate things. This results in a "progressive narrowing of identity from the universe (Mind) to the organism (Existential) to the psyche (Ego) to parts of the psyche (Persona)."[12] Here we find a parallel with the Chironic notion that a wound, or split, lies at the core of the human condition.

Note that the Existential level rests between the Biosocial and the Transpersonal bands. Wilber has defined the Biosocial bands as the reservoir or matrix of our sociological institutions, including civilization, culture, language, law and logic, all of which govern and influence our behaviour. This is the realm of social conditioning. [13] On the Transpersonal bands, Wilber has included such phenomena as Jung's collective unconscious, mythological awareness, extrasensory perception, astral projection, out-of-the-body experiences and other paranormal phenomena. Within this realm lies the potential danger for distraction and illusion on the path to Unity Consciousness.[14]

It is impossible to do justice to Wilber in such a short space, so I will here take leave of the rest of the spectrum to hone in on the Centauric level of consciousness. Referring to Table 2, I would suggest that the Persona/Shadow and Ego levels may be symbolized by the inner and social planets, Sun through Saturn, while the transition phase of the Biosocial bands may be represented by Jupiter and Saturn. The Existential, or Centauric, level may be symbolized by Chiron, and the Transpersonal levels by the collective planets, Uranus through Pluto. This is, of course, purely hypothetical, but there do appear to be some neat correlations between Wilber's model and the astrological model. I will therefore, at times, use the terms "Chironic" and "Centauric" interchangeably.

Centauric Consciousness

In his book, No Boundary, Wilber describes the centaur thus: "A centaur is a legendary animal, half-human and half-horse, and so it well represents a perfect union and harmony of mental and physical. A centaur is not a horse rider in control of his horse, but a rider who is one with his horse. Not a psyche divorced from and in control of a soma, but a self-controlling, self-governing psychosomatic unity."[15]

The cornerstone of his philosophy is that what he calls "unity consciousness" is our birthright, our deepest nature, but that "we progressively limit our world and turn from our true nature in order to embrace new boundaries."[16] These are the dualisms, the splits or wars of opposites, that we encounter on each level of the spectrum of consciousness. The most common of these boundaries is the self/not-self dichotomy. And so we move from one level of the spectrum to the next, from unity consciousness to the centaur to the ego to the persona and shadow. Wilber says we begin to make the descent or journey back toward unity when we consciously become dissatisfied with life, [17] and presumably act to do something about it.

So while we are in touch with our total organism at the Centaur level, we cannot remain so. We are pushed away from our Centaur particularly through our fear of death. We construct a boundary between our mind and body and therefore "rise" to the Ego level where the Centaur is broken. Wilber explains how the Centaur loses his connection with his total organism and how this results in the split between mind and body. "In flight from death," he says, man "avoids everything that might remind him of death," and this especially includes his body.[18] Thus he "identifies exclusively with his ego, his self-image, his purely mental personality, the abstract portion of the centaur ... he denies the body and rejects it … He is the rider, controller, the horseman — and the body is reduced to the role of stupid beast, the ridden, the controlled, the horse."[19]

According to Wilber, "few of us have lost our minds, but most of us have long ago lost our bodies."[20] Our consciousness, he says, "is almost exclusively head consciousness — I am my head, but I own my body .... 'I' am almost sitting on my body as if I were a horseman riding on a horse."[21]

It is worth drawing some parallels here with the astrological Chiron. Astrologers have tended to focus on the wild and unruly nature of most of the centaurs, extrapolating Chironic meaning to include a struggle between our instinctual or "lower'" nature and our spiritual or "higher" nature. And yet Chiron did not share his fellow centaurs' propensity for rape, war, and pillage. He was also, apparently, not afraid to die. As an immortal, he had no need to be afraid of death. It was life that became unbearable for him. The astrological Chiron seems to fit well on Wilber's Centaur level, while the Ego level perhaps befits the rest of the centaurs. Could it be that some of the pathology and issues that we tend to attribute to Chiron may be better described by one of the inner planets? And this works in the other direction as well, toward the transpersonal. There has been a tendency, on the part of some astrologers, to credit Chiron with a range of transpersonal, shamanistic, and galactic-awakening qualities that I feel should remain with the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto). Wilber is equally quite clear that Centaur consciousness is not transpersonal.

Wilber continues: "It is not exactly that man loses touch with his body. Rather, he loses touch with the unity of the body and mind, the unity of feeling and attention that is characteristic of the centaur. The whole clarity of feeling-attention becomes disrupted and distorted, and in its place is left compulsive thinking on the one hand, and the dissociated body on the other."[22]

The purpose of therapies aimed at this Centauric/Chironic level, therefore, is to restore this union of mind and body by healing or dissolving the boundary between the two. We do this by expanding our identity from the ego and its world view to the centaur and its world view "by touching and re-owning our projected bodies."[23] This is the crux of healing on the centaur level.

The "broken centaur" on the Ego level is one who is identified with her/his mind. Similarly, astrology is a very left-brained modality and one that may even tend to exacerbate the split between mind and body. Through astrology, we are constantly seeking reasons, wanting to know what may happen in the future, wanting to understand why something happened in the past, endlessly analyzing masses of data, and engaging in empirical research. I would therefore suggest that this type of astrology may work better on the Egoic or Mental levels, while a Chironic/Centauric astrology needs to embrace a more Humanistic or holistic approach. This is not to make a judgment about the worthiness of any particular approach to either psychology or astrology. The beauty of Wilber's model is that it is inclusive. The whole idea of a multi-levelled spectrum of human consciousness is that it allows room for different therapeutic approaches to be useful on different levels or at different stages.

Liz Greene has described Chiron as a "sort of rotten luck planet." She stresses the unhealable quality of Chiron's wound "regardless of how much psychotherapy, meditation, homeopathy, acupuncture, macrobiotic dieting or astrologising we do."[24] Yet perhaps we remain unable to heal the wound because we are simply using the wrong therapy to treat it. To use Wilber's model, not all therapies are useful on the Centauric level. Psychotherapy, for example, best addresses the Egoic level of the spectrum, while meditation is most suitable for the transpersonal levels. Centauric/Chironic therapies, on the other hand, include the Humanistic and Existential therapies and require a two-pronged approach, which Wilber has referred to as the noetic and somatic therapies. The former are the mind-centred therapies, such as Existential analysis, Humanistic psychology, and logotherapy, while the latter are the body-centred therapies, such as hatha yoga, polarity therapy, and structural integration. Ultimately, a combination of the two, noetic and somatic, is the most useful approach.[25]

Wilber's classification of the Centauric therapeutic approaches as either noetic or somatic is interesting in the light of the Virgo versus Sagittarius rulership debate. It would seem that those astrologers who favour the Virgo rulership are focussing on the body (somatic) aspect of the centaur, while those favouring Sagittarius are focussing on the mental (noetic) aspect. Recontacting the body is not sufficient in itself, nor is mere philosophizing about or trying to understand the wound. Since, according to Wilber, both approaches are needed to effect the body-mind integration of the centaur, it would seem that these rulership theories are partial at best. Logically, the integration of the body-mind would need to embrace both Virgo and Sagittarian qualities. Perhaps Joyce Mason has hit closest to home in the rulership debate with her Sector Rulership theory.[26] This theory posits that Chiron rules the entire sector of the zodiac from Virgo to Sagittarius. In other words, it rules a process that begins with Virgo, where we become aware of our wound and first embark on the healing quest; proceeds to Libra, where we seek balance and healing, often through consulting an Other; moves through Scorpio, where we pass through the fires of transformation in the process of healing; and finishes with Sagittarius, where we have come through the other end, somewhat older, wiser, more philosophical, and prepared to impart our wisdom to others.

Centauric Consciousness and the Humanistic Movement: The Implications for Astrology

According to Wilber, the Centauric level is "the great level of the Human Potential Movement, of Existentialism, of Humanistic therapy, all of which take as their assumption the integration of mind, body, and emotions into a higher-order unity, a 'deep totality.' "[27] Paralleling this insight is the fact that the Human Potential Movement really began to flourish about the time of Chiron's discovery in 1977, and, as mentioned earlier, Wilber's first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness, also appeared at that time.

Humanistic therapies possess certain identifiable qualities. They focus on the development of autonomy, freedom, integration, authenticity, spontaneous will, intentionality, the search for meaning, and self-actualization. Wilber has labelled the Centauric therapies as "Humanistic-Existential," for he also includes the insights of the Existential philosophers on this level. The Existentialists, of the likes of Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Husserl, Sartre, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Simone De Beauvoir, were all preoccupied with the major dualisms of self vs. other and being vs. nullity.[28] This is why many of the writings of the Existential philosophers display such an intense preoccupation with death, alienation, angst, and despair. According to Wilber, it is at the Centauric, or Existential, level "that the counsels of the Existentialists are of such value, for they point out that on this level at least, I can find meaning in my life only by facing these two major dualisms through an act of will."[29]

All of this has profound implications for the type of astrology most compatible with Centauric consciousness, particularly in respect to that thorny dilemma of fate versus free will. Wilber states that the will is generated on the Centauric level. The central realization here is that "if I cannot choose my fate, I can nevertheless choose my attitude toward it." And herein lies our free will, or, as the Existentialists would put it, our "Existential freedom."

Wilber elaborates, quoting Rollo May: "In effect, I choose to be what I am — 'we are our choices.' This does not necessarily 'change the fate, but it greatly changes the person'. And there is no asking how this is to be accomplished — one simply does it, for that is our freedom: 'My first act of free will is to believe in free will.' "[30] What this suggests for astrological practice on this Centauric/Chironic level is that an awareness of one's ability to choose is crucial. I would suggest that the Centauric/Chironic astrologer attempts to enable and empower his/her clients through encouraging in them a sense of their own freedom and power to choose their attitude in the face of fate. The fate versus free will argument is therefore viewed from an altered perspective. It is no longer a question of fate versus free will, but of fate and free will. A Chironic type of astrology, I suggest, embraces a both/and approach to this issue. It resonates with the well-known Serenity Prayer — accepting what we cannot change, changing what we can, and knowing the difference.

Another aspect of the Humanistic-Existential therapies that is relevant to a Centauric type of astrology is the focus on the "here and now." According to Wilber, the mode of time on the Existential level is "the immediate, vivid, and living present,"[31] and it is this awareness or translation that is used by many Existential and Humanistic practitioners in their therapeutic work. In Emerson's words: " … man postpones and remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future."[32]

Fritz Perls' Gestalt Therapy is a fine example of this type of now-focussed therapy. The client is encouraged to "suspend 'mental chatter' and focus awareness on the immediate here and now. The therapist will watch … for any flight from awareness into thought."[33] According to Wilber, the Egoic-level therapies emphasize an exploration of the past, while the Centaur-level therapies actively discourage it. At the Centaur level, one focuses on the present but is not confined in it, rather grounded in it. The centaur "can still see the past and the future, still remember yesterday and plan for tomorrow, but it can see them as movements of the present."[34]

If we translate these Humanistic concerns of spontaneous freedom, choice, and focussing on the present, to the practice of astrology, we can see that a Humanistic approach must necessarily embrace such qualities. On the other hand, a "predictive" or deterministic type of astrology, and this includes natal as well as dynamic approaches, will tend to emphasize the past and the future. The preoccupation of the predictive astrologer is certainly to "stand on tiptoe to foresee the future." The emphasis is on what might happen, on fatedness and forecasting events, not on what is. Spontaneity is thrown to the winds and in its place we find an obsession with predicting and preparing for an unknown future.

Wilber points to numerous Humanistic therapists who he says belong to the Centauric level. These include Rollo May, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Erich Fromm, Fritz Perls, and various others. Each of these Humanistic therapists and theorists has stressed the importance of self-actualization and meaning, and this too provides a meaningful context for a Centauric/Chironic, or Humanistic, approach to astrology. Self-actualization, according to Maslow, is an impulse "toward actualizing more of our potentialities," toward becoming a "fully evolved and authentic self," to be the very best we are capable of becoming.[35]

According to Wilber, the search for meaning in life rests deeply on the Centauric, or Existential, level of consciousness. He offers some interesting insights on this subject that again tie into the way we may approach a Humanistic type of astrology. On this level, "meaning is found, not in outward actions or possessions, but in the inner radiant currents of your own being, and in the release and relationship of these currents to the world, to friends, to humanity at large, and to infinity itself."[36] Wilber stresses that finding meaning in life also involves accepting death in life, and this, recall, was the philosophical approach of the Existentialists. Life has no meaning because we fear death, and this recoils as a fear of life: "I have to be careful in life — I have to hold back, inhibit and freeze my entire being … there is no vision of my life and its meaning as a whole."[37] In facing death, we embrace life.

I like to consider what it is that attracts us to astrology, and I have long suspected that some of our deepest motivations may have their basis in fear: fear of not having control, fear of not knowing, fear of uncertainty, fear of chaos, fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of fate, and, of course, fear of death. What better antidote to this fear than the practice of a type of astrology which claims to know that fearful future before it arrives, which attempts to render the uncertain certain and the unknowable knowable.

Humanistic astrology, on the other hand, is very much concerned with the Centauric notions of self-actualization, meaning, freedom, and integration, which brings us to Dane Rudhyar.

A Centauric-Chironic look at the Chart of Dane Rudhyar: The Grandfather of
Humanistic Astrology

Dane Rudhyar was born in Paris on March 23, 1895, within a week of Chiron's perihelion in the sign of Libra, and within a month of Chiron's first unconscious sighting and photographing. Rudhyar is also credited with predicting Chiron's discovery.[38] It is hardly surprising, in the light of all this, to find that Rudhyar's natal chart reveals a very prominent Chiron, conjunct the Midheaven, opposing his Aries Sun, and trining a Pluto-Mars-Neptune conjunction on the Descendant.[39]

In 1936 Dane Rudhyar ushered in a new era for astrology with the publication of The Astrology of Personality. This book, subtitled A Re-formulation of Astrological Concepts and Ideals, in terms of Contemporary Psychology and Philosophy,[40] presented a ground-breaking synthesis of astrology, history, Smuts' theory of Holism, theosophy, philosophy, Carl Jung's depth psychology, the new Einsteinian Physics, and more.

A visionary always ahead of his time, he was drawn to all the new ideas as they were emerging (the pioneering Sun in Aries in the 3rd house), after which he attempted to synthesize them into a more whole or "harmonic" astrology. This is aptly described by Rudhyar's elevated Chiron in Libra. The word "synthesis" appears to be another useful keyword for Chiron. Moreover, Rudhyar did not simply present a "harmonic" astrology, he also put forward a "harmonic picture of the universe."[41]

Years later he was to change the name of his re-formulated astrology from "Harmonic" to "Humanistic" or "Person-centered," in line with parallel developments in the field of Humanistic Psychology. Here is a fine example of a Centauric-Chironic thinker and healer, as well as an interesting synthesis of the Sun-Chiron opposition spanning the Aries-Libra polarity. Rudhyar was the pioneer (Aries) of a Harmonic (Libra) approach to astrology (Chiron), [42] and this became his major contribution to the world (Chiron conjunct Midheaven). Rudhyar was also an artist, a poet, and a musical composer. He wrote about an "aesthetical" approach to life, all beautifully symbolized by Chiron in Libra.

Rudhyar's Harmonic astrology introduced some revolutionary new ideas (Chiron trine Pluto-Mars-Neptune in Gemini) into what had become a very fated and fortune-telling type of astrology. These were radical ideas, such as: there are no good or bad charts, planets, or aspects. Above all, he sought to reinterpret traditional astrology in a way that emphasized integration, meaning, self-actualization, and purpose, all very Centaurian/Chironian, as we have seen.

His many books and articles are replete with references to the principle of wholeness. He often refers to the theory of holism, explaining how our universe and everything within it is composed of a system of interpenetrating wholes within wholes within wholes. He urged us to look at the birth chart as a whole, to see a transit or an aspect as a phase of a whole cycle, to see individuals as wholes.

So much of Rudhyar's writing evokes powerful images of Chiron in Libra. The words "relationship" and "relatedness" pop up frequently. He continually stresses the relatedness of all the factors in a birth chart and refers to "cycles of relationships."[43] Rudhyar also described the Humanistic approach as the "Middle Way," " ... the way of integration through form - the way of harmony, and beauty."[44]

Within Rudhyar's work is a wealth of material that harmonizes nicely with both Wilber's description of Centauric consciousness and what we already know and sense about the Chiron archetype. There are clear parallels between Rudhyar's Humanistic approach and Wilber's Existential or Centauric level of consciousness. Rudhyar even described the birth chart as the "existential formula" of our total being, using the same terminology as Wilber and the Existentialist philosophers before him. Rudhyar, not surprisingly, was also influenced by the philosophical thought of Nietzsche, who in turn was an important influence on the Existentialists.

The following is a quote that brings together all of these themes and also represents a fitting symbolic synthesis of Rudhyar the artist-musician and Rudhyar the astrologer (the archetypal Chiron in Libra on the Midheaven): " ... every planet [in a birth chart] is like a singer in the choir of personality. Each has its own rhythm, cycle and function within the polyphonic fullness of personality …. The living reality of the birth-chart is the confluence of all planets' cycles, from which is born the 'chord of personality.' It is this chord which is the spiritual Name of the person."[45]

An Expanded View of Chiron?

For astrologers who have already embraced the 'integration' aspect of Chiron and seek to facilitate this process in their practice, both Ken Wilber's and Dane Rudhyar's work can offer much insight. Bringing together the concepts of Centauric consciousness and Humanistic awareness can serve to expand and deepen our understanding of the Chiron archetype. Synthesizing some of this material, we could say that Chiron in the birth chart reveals where and how we seek integration, meaning in life, purpose, and self-actualization. This slight shift in focus casts more light on the nature of the "Healing Way" symbolized by Chiron. To date, describing the Chiron position in the chart merely as reflecting where we have been wounded and where we seek healing has not revealed enough about the deeper nature of this wound and what healing really is. Healing is whole-ing. The wound is a reflection of Wilber's dualisms, primarily the mind/body dualism. The way is the Humanistic way. The Chiron position therefore is also an empowered position — it shows us how and where we need to accept responsibility for our own life and in what area we can activate our will to make our lives more meaningful, fulfilling, and whole.

Synthesizing the notions of Centauric, Humanistic, and Chironic consciousness can also offer us numerous techniques to assist in the healing of that much talked about "body/mind split." Recall that these techniques are those found on Wilber's Existential or Centauric level of Consciousness (see Table 2).

Applied to astrology itself, a Chironic form of astrological practice is a Humanistic approach. Rudhyar, as we have seen, is the exemplar par extraordinaire of this type of astrology. Richard Nolle has portrayed Chiron as "the astrologer's astrologer,"[46] and this is certainly how I see Rudhyar. Nolle also describes the type of astrology represented by Chiron in a way that is very reminiscent of Rudhyar's astrology: "[it] … looks to the heavens as symbolic not only of what one is, but what one might become; not only of what might happen to oneself, but what one might bring to life in a creative way."[47]

It is important to reiterate here that the Centauric or Chironic consciousness is not transpersonal, and hence its realm is distinct from that of the transpersonal planets. Perhaps with the aid of Wilber's Centauric model we can more readily tease out what belongs to Chiron and what does not.

The Future

Given the ongoing crises of war, and the natural and ecological disasters which continually beset our planet, it seems inappropriate to stop here at humanism. This could seem a rather narcissistic luxury unless the notion of healing can be placed into some wider global context.

Indeed, Rudhyar eventually moved on from his Humanistic astrology to embrace what he called a "Transpersonal" astrology. Whereas the goal of the Humanistic path is self-actualization; the goal of the Transpersonal path is the dedication of the self to the greater Whole, or service to humanity. Once we have actualized our innate potentials, as symbolized in the natal chart, and become a more whole and integrated person, we are ready to become "a transforming agent," a "vehicle for effectively focussed action" directed toward a more collective, planetary, or galactic type of purpose.

Of course, becoming individuated (Jung), or integrated (Wilber), or more whole (Rudhyar), must come first. We cannot proceed to the transpersonal levels until we have mastered the Centauric, just as we cannot travel to the outer planets until we have passed Chiron. The Humanistic or Centauric level is where we seek that necessary integration. It is interesting that the deeper meaning of the word integrity is wholeness. To "integrate" is to combine parts into a whole. Perhaps integrity might also be a useful keyword for Chiron. Note that Chiron does not rule integration and holism at all levels. Rather, it rules primarily integration and whole-ing of body and mind. The higher-order states of integration, manifesting in intellectual synthesis, mysticism and "unity consciousness" surely belong more appropriately with Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

To return to Ken Wilber, wherein lies some remarkable insights. The centaur, he says, inhabits a world-centric space and its cognition is vision-logic. This is a synthesizing and integrating awareness — …"it adds up the parts and sees networks of interactions …. a self integrated in its networks of responsibility and service."[48] This global, world-centric, or Centauric world view, says Wilber, is our hope for the future, for "the world is in the midst of the torturous birth throes of a collective emergence of an entirely new structure of consciousness, the centaur in vision-logic, the integral aperspectival mind."[49]

This integral aperspectival mind is the mind of the postmodernists, the post-structuralists, and the deconstructionists. It is the type of mind behind the new physics. It is the mind that sees all perspectives. It is no longer ethnocentric or egocentric. It is holistic and Chironic.

A number of writers have intuitively called Chiron the planet of the New or Aquarian Age. According to Wilber, the Centauric consciousness is only just starting. We are in a transition phase. We are participating in the construction of a new world view, a new consciousness, a global vision. Rudhyar too echoes this belief that humanity has reached a transition or crisis point in its history, as a prelude to an anticipated evolutionary expansion of human consciousness into galactic realms. Similarly, the end of this millennium has witnessed the launching of sophisticated space probes which have opened windows onto the farthest reaches of our solar system and beyond. Perhaps Chiron, as the bridge to the transpersonal planets, is not so much a metaphor for the New Age, as the bridge or pathway or link to the New Age, which as Rudhyar emphasized, is symbolized by Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

At this momentous time in human history, we are also coming up to the Chiron-Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius, exact on December 31, 1999. The astrological symbolism seems to reinforce this theme of a transformation and revisioning of belief systems, religions, ways of thinking, and modes of knowing. Perhaps this is the revolution some have been waiting for, not a violent and bloody overthrow but, to use a well-worn term, a paradigm shift. It is worth considering that at the close of this millennium (date-wise at least), the world may not be about to end, so much as the world view.

"The crisis all human beings face is a crisis of belief".

Dane Rudhyar [50]

REFERENCES AND NOTES

  1. Zane Stein, Interpreting Chiron (2nd ed), Lansdale , PA: Assoc. for Studying Chiron, 1983, pp. 3-4; Richard Nolle, Chiron: The Key to Your Quest, Tempe, AZ: AFA, Inc., 1983, 1994, pp. 27-30; & Barbara Hand Clow, Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets, St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Pub., 1990, p. xvii; Melanie Reinhart, Chiron and the Healing Journey, Arkana, Penguin Books, 1989.
  2. Most of the time, Chiron orbits between Saturn and Uranus, but as its orbit is highly elliptical, at perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun), Chiron crosses the orbit of Saturn and is situated between Jupiter and Saturn. At aphelion (its furthest distance from the Sun), Chiron reaches the innermost (or perihelion) point of Uranus' orbit.
  3. 4° Taurus: "The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow," in Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformations and its 360 Phases, New York: Vintage Books, 1974, p. 73.
  4. Barbara Hand Clow, Chiron: Rainbow Bridge, p. 8.
  5. John Rowan, Ordinary Ecstasy, Humanistic Psychology in Action, London & New York: Routledge, 1988, p. 146.
  6. Ken Wilber, The Atman Project, A Transpersonal View of Human Development, Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, New Edition, 1996, pp. 4-5.
  7. Ken Wilber, Up From Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution, Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, New Edition, 1996, pp. 12-13.
  8. Ibid., p. 339n.
  9. Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, The Spirit of Evolution, Boston & London: Shambhala, 1995, p. 186.
  10. Wilber, Up From Eden, p 340n.
  11. Ken Wilber, The Spectrum of Consciousness, Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1977, p. 131; and Ken Wilber, No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, Boston & London: Shambhala, 1985, pp. 10-11.
  12. Wilber, The Spectrum of Consciousness, pp. 105-7; 187.
  13. Wilber, The Spectrum of Consciousness, pp. 213-30.
  14. Wilber, The Spectrum of Consciousness, pp. 254-284.
  15. Wilber, No Boundary, p. 80.
  16. Ibid., pp. 3-4.
  17. Ibid., p. 85.
  18. Ibid., p. 80.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid., p. 105.
  21. Ibid., pp. 105-6.
  22. Ibid., p. 81.
  23. Ibid., pp. 105-6.
  24. Liz Greene & Howard Sasportas, The Inner Planets: Building Blocks of Personal Reality, York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1993, pp. 138-40.
  25. Wilber, The Spectrum of Consciousness, pp. 234-5.
  26. Joyce Mason, "Wholeness and the Inner Marriage, The Chiron Sector and Relationship," 1992, A Place in Space Website, URL: http://www.aplaceinspace.net/Pages/JMWholeness.html
  27. Wilber, No Boundary, pp. 118-19.
  28. Wilber, The Spectrum of Consciousness, pp. 244-5.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid., p. 246.
  31. Wilber, The Atman Project, p. 68.
  32. Quoted in Wilber, The Spectrum of Consciousness, p. 111.
  33. Wilber, No Boundary, pp. 148-9.
  34. Wilber, The Atman Project, p. 69.
  35. Wilber, No Boundary, p. 119.
  36. Ibid., pp 119-20.
  37. Wilber, The Atman Project, pp. 168-9.
  38. These facts obtained from Nolle, Chiron: The Key to Your Quest, ps. 6, 21. Chiron was first photographed on April 24, 1895, and on numerous other occasions, before it was officially and 'consciously' discovered on Nov 1, 1977. These earlier sightings are said to have been 'unconscious'.
  39. Birth data from the "Dane Rudhyar" pages on the Matrix Australia website: URL: http://www.matrix.com.au/index0.html (ASC and MC degrees confirmed by Rudhyar himself in Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala, p. 371.)
  40. Dane Rudhyar, The Astrology of Personality: A Re-formulation of Astrological Concepts and Ideals, in Terms of Contemporary Psychology and Philosophy, New York: Lucis Publishing Co., 1936; Santa Fe: Aurora Press, 1991.
  41. Dane Rudhyar, Person-Centered Astrology, New York: Aurora Press, 1980, pp. 54-5.
  42. Nolle (1983, p 33) points to Chiron's role in mythology as a teacher of astrology, suggesting it "ought to be seen as the Planet, if not of astrology, then of astrologers".
  43. Dane Rudhyar, The Lunation Cycle, Berkeley & London: Shambala, 1971, pp. 5-7; Santa Fe: Aurora Press, 1986.
  44. Rudhyar, Person-Centered Astrology, pp. 66-7.
  45. Rudhyar, The Lunation Cycle, p. 11.
  46. Nolle, Chiron, The Key to Your Quest, p. 29.
  47. Ibid., p. 33.
  48. Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, Dublin, Gill & Macmillan Ltd., 1996, p. 191.
  49. Wilber, Sex, Ecology and Spirituality, pp. 187-88.
  50. Dane Rudhyar, The Fullness of Human Experience, Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1986, p. 236.

Chart Data and Sources

Chiron Discovery Chart, November 1, 1977; 10:00 a.m. PST+8:00, Pasadena, California; Data given by discoverer, astronomer Charles Kowal, to astrologer Joelle Mahoney. (Source: Erminie Lantero, The Continuing Discovery of Chiron, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1983; cited in Brian Clark, Keys to Understanding Chiron, Abbotsford, Vic, Aust, Astro*Synthesis, 1992, p 41)

Dane Rudhyar, March 23, 1895; 0:32:40 a.m. UT+0:00, Paris, France; A: Accurate data from Dane Rudhyar himself confirming the Ascendant and Midheaven angles.

Dane Rudhyar Picture Credit

From Dane Rudhyar, Person Centered Astrology, Aurora Press, PO Box 573, Santa Fe. NM 87504, USA. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Copyright © 1999 by Candy Hillenbrand - all rights reserved

This article first appeared in The Mountain Astrologer, Dec1999/Jan 2000


CANDY HILLENBRAND is an Australian astrologer, flower essence practitioner and writer with a special interest in exploring the interface between astrology and other disciplines. She is a Social Sciences graduate from the Australian National University in Canberra, and holds the Practitioners Qualification from the Federation of Australian Astrologers, co-winning the FAA's Allan Johnson Gold Medal in 1997. She is the Editor and Publisher of the quarterly international journal: The Wholistic Astrologer, and her articles appear regularly in a variety of print and online publications. Candy can be contacted at P.O. Box 1796, Macclesfield, S.A, 5153, Australia; or e-mail: candy@aplaceinspace.net. Visit her website: "A Place in Space" — www.aplaceinspace.net


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