Saturn represents the outer limit of determinable reality. That applies to the reality of the individual as well as the collective. This is indicated by everything we glean from His mythic face; from His association with lead, death, and winter; and even from His material being – His rings, His position as the last planet visible to the naked eye, and the last of the ancient planets.
The outer planets represent the surreal. And each of them is disruptive and innovative, not just Uranus. Each of them is inflated and inspiring, not just Neptune. And each of them is violent and empowering, not just Pluto. They each wreak chaos, out of which, our creativity comes.
For 200 years, Saturn had the job of filtering the doings (and misdoings) of the outer planets, doing it sometimes more effectively than other times. All that changed on November 1, 1977, when Chiron was discovered between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus, making for a bridge, so to speak, between the nether regions and human reality.
By analogy, the space between Saturn and Uranus, between the real and the surreal, can be considered the infamous wound of the mythical Centaur, and that His half-beast-half-god image is both the split and the connection between the primitive self and the Divine. Perhaps, then, Chiron symbolizes not simply a wound, but a crevasse, a schism, a canyon, a gap, one that calls for a leap, or more appropriately put in equestrian symbolism, a gallop, that bridges the wild world of the outer planets and the order of human consciousness.
Furthermore, similar to the traditional planets which relinquished some of their duties when the outer planets were discovered, so too, now it might be the task of the Centaur, and not Saturn, to carry the “stuff” from the great beyond into awareness. When He is doing this task well, we get wisemen – our healers, heroes and mentors – the links to the Divine powers within. When He’s sleeping on the job, we get the wild and wicked madmen who, nevertheless, also stir our souls and bring our wounds to mind.
In the 20th century, there is no better example of the horoscopic Chiron at His best than in the chart of Mahatma Gandhi. Not only did Gandhi bridge international gaps of culture, religion, politics and economics, and help to form the nation of India, but he also healed many of its great divisions, except for one. And he did this, of course, not through violence, but with civil disobedience, most notably through his hunger strikes. We can see this feat in his 6th house Chiron in Aries, in opposition to his Libra Sun, and exactly square his nodes, and closely quincunx natal Mercury.
Interestingly, Gandhi’s initial tool in setting India free from Great Britain was sanitation. He firmly believed that no people could be responsible for their freedom until they learned to be physically clean, and so, he initiated major education programs on personal hygiene as well as environmentalism!
Another form of his Chiron is his prolific writing. Few people realize he wrote every single day from his early teens until the day before his assassination; and this was not 3rd house kind of writing, but rather 6th house technical, informational, practical writing, most often as part of the education of the people, and as a form of service.
His natal Chiron also explains his deep sorrow on the separation of India and Pakistan, a division too great for him to succeed in making whole.
In the mundane chart of India, Chiron is in the 6th house too, but in Scorpio, and it is exactly conjunct Gandhi’s natal Mercury and quincunx his own. (Bear in mind, too, the association of the quincunx with the sign of Virgo and its manifestations in health and cleanliness).
There is a remarkable connection between these positions of Chiron, (1 degree of Aries and 4 degrees of Scorpio) and that of Martin Luther King, who looked at Gandhi as a mentor. King’s natal Chiron is 5 Taurus and it sits just above his Ascendant in conjunction to Jupiter. The interpretation is obvious. Another important example of Chiron is the transit on the day of King’s most famous speech, “I Have a Dream;” it was conjunct Venus and Moon in Pisces in the 11th house.
In the more literal mentor-student relationship between Freud and Jung, Chiron plays a very substantial role. For Freud, Chiron, at 6 Aquarius, is the apex of a t-square with his Scorpio Ascendant and his Taurus Sun-Uranus conjunction. Jung’s natal Uranus is 14 Leo, closing this t-square for Freud. No wonder they helped give shape to each other’s work, but ultimately, had to separate; and no wonder the separation was Jung’s rebellion against Freud! To add insult to injury, Jung’s Moon is 15 Taurus.
Jung’s Chiron, at 26 Aries, is conjunct natal Neptune and it is in an out-of-sign square to his Sun-Uranus conjunction in early Leo, and of course, he is most known for healing through dreams and other “Neptunian” work. Chiron might partly suggest his annoyance with his reputation as a mystic, which he strongly disputed.
Another well-known mentor-student relationship with noteworthy Chiron aspects is that of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller. Sullivan’s Chiron is conjunct Keller’s Moon in Pisces! However, Keller’s own Chiron sits in her natal 6th house (health, skills and self-sufficiency) conjunct Neptune (handicaps) in Taurus (self-resourcefulness, self-worth and valuing the body).
The heroic influence of JFK on Bill Clinton can be seen in many astrological ways, including through the eyes of Chiron. Most simply put, Clinton’s natal Chiron at 18 Libra is closely conjunct Kennedy’s Ascendant, so he was the very embodiment of Clinton’s hero. This Chiron also equals the midpoint of Clinton’s Venus and Jupiter. Too bad he didn’t know that before he overindulged in the private company of young ladies! That might have been one bridge not to cross.
An interesting Chiron connection exists between Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. Of course, everything in Garland’s horoscope indicates her transcendental voice and performance, i.e. a 12th house Sun, Pluto closely conjunct her Cancer Rising, a void of course Moon just passed a sesquiquad to Neptune, the Pisces MC, Saturn and Jupiter on the North Node in the 4th house, and on and on. However, what is also on the list of indications is a first-house Venus at 19 Cancer making a square to her tenth-house Chiron at 16 Aries, i.e., a voice that leaps over the rainbow (perhaps to the outer planets?) and brings the audience along for the ride.
Minnelli, by comparison, has a Mars-Saturn-Moon conjunction bundled around 19 Cancer, a Midheaven at 19 Capricorn and Chiron at 20 Libra. That’s a complicated natal t-square that is closed by her mother’s Chiron. Are there words even to express such an astrological connection? Just look at their relationship with each other, their parallel lives with men, money and addictions, and their reputations in the world; and have a listen to their sound.
In a twist on the mentor-student theme of Chiron is the synastry of Barbra Streisand with Fanny Brice. These women never met, but Streisand, of course, skyrocketed to fame by portraying Brice on stage and screen in “Funny Girl” and “Funny Lady.” (Ties between real-life characters and the actors who portray them are always eye-opening). Although there are many aspects between these two charts, narrowing down to Chiron’s activity, we see a spread of Scorpio planets (Uranus, Sun, Mercury, MC and Venus) in Brice’s chart in opposition to Streisand’s Taurus (singing) Sun and square to her 5th house Leo (performing) conjunction of Moon, Pluto and Chiron. Take into account, too, how both performers overcame criticism of their physical looks with their enormous talent and confidence.
Another Chiron connection from showbiz is the mentorship from Oscar Hammerstein, a forerunner of the musical theatre, to Stephen Sondheim, hailed as a legend in his own time and perhaps the last of the great composers in this original American art form. Hammerstein’s Chiron at 4 Libra opposes Sondheim’s Aries conjunction of Sun, Uranus and Venus, and it squares his Capricorn Moon and Saturn. It also forms a trine to Sondheim’s Aquarius Ascendant. A well-known anecdote exemplifies this Chiron connection. As an adolescent, Sondheim, a family friend of the Hammerstein’s, spent the summer with them and announced that he would like to write a musical-comedy. With the older man’s encouragement, Sondheim did. At the end of the summer, Hammerstein declared the young man’s work a travesty, sat him down, and with patience, diligence and a blue pencil, went over page by page and note by note what was wrong with it. Imagine a private lesson with Oscar Hammerstein on how to write for the theatre! By the way, at this time, Sondheim’s solar arc Chiron came to oppose his MC.
Sondheim’s own Chiron is in Taurus in the 3rd house and it is in a trine with his Capricorn planets. As a result of his own experience, he is very active in educational and training programs for children and adolescents who want to go into the theatre and strongly believes in the importance of “passing the mantle” to a younger generation who shares what you value.
There’s one more anecdote for this example. Hammerstein’s death in 1960 left his writing partner, Richard Rodgers, bereft; so it was suggested that Sondheim, who was established in his own right by then, step into the place of collaborator. Transiting Chiron was in Pisces forming a closing sextile to its natal position in Taurus. This aspect often indicates “enjoying the fruits of the labor;” namely, this mentorship left the student to fill the shoes of the teacher. He was seen as heir to the Broadway throne. However, the collaboration was a horror for both men, producing a rather insignificant show, and affirming for the Aries Sondheim to go it alone from then on, resulting in some of the most innovative and memorable pieces of musical theatre.
So, now for Chiron as the madman….actually, this is the tragic story of a hero who became a madman….O.J. Simpson.
Of course, there are a myriad of astrological indications of this tragedy, but obviously, for the purpose of this article, we are focusing on the influence of Chiron.
At first glance, Simpson’s natal Chiron seems not so attention-getting, i.e., placed in the cadent 3rd house in Scorpio with a wide square to Saturn in the 12th, a trine to Venus, and a quincunx to Gemini Mars in the 10th. However, at the time of the murder, transiting Jupiter was just about to station (within a degree) on his Chiron, perhaps inflating its activity; and a full moon in Scorpio (always a difficult one) was conjunct it just six weeks prior to the murder, intensifying the meaning of the Centaur, perhaps more of its divide than wholeness.
On closer evaluation, though, Chiron plays a prominent role in the scenario. Since the cadent (mental) houses were involved as well as the airy (intellectual) Mars and the closing quincunx (mental health), when triggered by Jupiter (grandiosity) and the emotional intensity of a Scorpio (raging, murderous, powerful) full moon, then indeed, a mind can snap, leap to conclusions, and take action on horrific thoughts.
Ironically, remember the car chase involved a Bronco! Perhaps even more ironic in light of a 3rd house Chiron, Simpson was known for his gallop, so to speak, on the football field as well as his great leap in his Avis commercials.
More significantly, the synastry between the charts of Simpson and his wife brought out the worse that Chiron has to offer. His Chiron sits on her natal 8th house cusp and Neptune, and that becomes the Ascendant in her LA relocation chart! Furthermore, Simpson’s natal Chiron is the midpoint of Nicole’s Saturn and Pluto. Is there any need for clarification?
By transit, in June, 1994, Chiron was at 4 Virgo, exactly the degree of the IC in their composite chart and just a little off from her natal Descendant. She was face-to-face with the wild beast that would end their relationship in the most final of ways.
This also implies the transit of a closing sextile to his natal Chiron. (This is the same aforementioned aspect in the story of Sondheim and Rodgers). This is hardly to say that closing sextiles make for a horror show; certainly, they don’t. But it is to say that closing transits (particularly, the square and sextile) are the result of past actions, so they can only be as rewarding as the past actions were well labored. And they can only be accurately predicted if the astrologer is familiar with the previous transiting aspects in a cycle.
In summation of Chiron as a bridge: this image serves to connect the power of the outer planets and the ordering principle of the traditional planets, often appearing in our lives as an actual person who serves as a mentor to facilitate that creative process; but when that bridge is strained, it can allow volatility, chaos and primitive behavior to override one’s consciousness, and it can manifest, instead, as the animal in each of us.
Remember, too, that Chiron is very new to human consciousness as well as to the astrologer’s toolkit, so students are encouraged to keep studying, reading and researching its dynamics in the natal chart. Don’t leap to conclusions. A most impressive book is one of the first on the topic. Erminie Lantero’s “The Continuing Discovery of Chiron” provides great mythological, historical and astronomical information on Chiron. She also emphasizes how astrological interpretation is a creative process which requires an open mind. One of the best ways to learn is to observe the transits and progressions to and from Chiron in your own horoscope and in the charts of friends, family and public figures.
On a different note, in addition to the wound and a bridge, I propose another image for Chiron – the kiss. This image is borrowed from the novel, “The Hours,” by Michael Cunningham. Those readers, who are familiar with it or its film version, know the three main characters use a kiss, not romantically, but as an attempt to connect with another human being, thereby breaking their existential alienation.
This kind of kiss is not the yearning of Neptune and His spiritual transcendence, nor the craving of Pluto and His passion; but rather a need to look deep into the eyes of another and connect with the soul as though to ask, “Are you there? Do you know what I know?” That kiss might, might be another manifestation of Chiron. And hasn’t that “need to connect” been such a popular theme in our culture since the discovery of Chiron?
Existential alienation has been around since, well, the beginning of existence, certainly long before the discovery of Chiron. We can also see from the writings of Sophocles through Shakespeare and Camus, every generation thinks it invented such alienation or has the worse case of it. This is most of all true for our current celebrity-seeking, self-aggrandizing times, a tendency we can see even in our own community, which dramatized everything from the Harmonic Convergence of 1987 to the Grand Square Solar Eclipse of August, 2000, and is already projecting the horrors of Pluto in Capricorn. Despite this social Narcissism, however, one must admit the pitch of existential alienation has been turned up a notch, so to speak, since man discovered a way to destroy mankind in the last century. Up until then, only Nature had that power.
In the same way that we, astrologers, give or take a decade or two when associating the discovery of Uranus with various revolutions, i.e., French, American and Industrial; and likewise with the social trends that coincided with the discoveries of Neptune and Pluto, perhaps we can be so generous with Chiron too, and say, generally, in the decades surrounding His discovery, the signs of the Aquarian Age became evident in the world, i.e., amazing technological advances, the breakdown of social barriers, and a noticeable rise in the alienation of the individual in society. If so, what is really taking a leap from the outer planets to the rings of Saturn is the Age of Aquarius and perhaps it comes on the back of the Centaur.
That’s quite a statement, I realize, especially coming from the skeptic of Chiron-ian influences as I am; so I reserve the right to eat my words and lick my wounds.
Mahatma Gandhi: October 2, 1869
The Nation of India: August 15, 1947
Martin Luther King: January 15, 1929
Sigmund Freud: May 6, 1856
Carl Jung: July 26, 1875
Helen Keller: June 27, 1880
Annie Sullivan: April 14, 1866
John F. Kennedy: May 29, 1917
Bill Clinton: August 19, 1946
Judy Garland: June 10, 1922
Liza Minnelli: March 12, 1946
Barbra Streisand: April 24, 1942
Fanny Brice: October 29, 1891
Oscar Hammerstein: July 12, 1895
Stephen Sondheim: March 22, 1930
O.J. Simpson: July 9, 1947
Nicole Simpson: May 19, 1959