ORBITAL SYMBOLISM IN ASTROLOGY


I. INTRODUCTION

   Trying to discover the astrological meaning of new planetary objects is not a simple question of playing with a name, beginning with the fact that many of them do not have a name yet  Their orbital dynamics, the place they occupy in the structure of the solar system, their physical characteristics, they all establish a framework, a "niche" where they belong, a "gesture", a way of acting.  Then the astrologer fills this form with his observations.

   The most elemental principle of astrology is the foundation of this approach: "as above, so below", except that the "above" is the abstract, heliocentric perspective, not directly observable.  The whole of modern Astrology is based on this abstract and non-observable world of "above", closer to mathematics than to what is physically experienced with the senses.

   There is nothing "magical" in this.  It is a reason that follows its own logic based on concordances and different from the logic of mechanics and of "cause and effect".  This doesn't make it "irrational" in any way.  It is just more analogical and metaphorical.

   All observations must be interpreted and given a meaning.  To do this, the scientist uses paradigms and builds explanations based on premises and certain cultural assumptions about the nature of the object under observation and about the nature of "reality".  The astrologer doesn't make anything different. He also follows paradigms.  Symbolical association and metaphorical thinking is one of these paradigms, one upon which rests the whole corpus of classical astrology.

   When we apply orbital dynamics to the study of centaurs, one thing that becomes clear is that they tend to be very dramatic.  They speak stronger and with more poignancy to the imagination than ordinary, almost circular orbits.  It is just a question of getting used to their orbital language and gestures, a language that springs from the "orbital paradigm", which we can define as follows: the shape, place, and velocity of an orbit, the "orbital gesture", corresponds to similar gestures --psychologically or in external circumstances-- in the lives of people.

 The distance ranges outlined here numerically, describing orbits that intercalate across the regions of the slow-moving planets of the solar system, establish the main framework on which their orbital symbolism is based, defining unambiguously some basic dynamic characteristics.  They provide the information necessary to establish the foundation of this symbolism, to which is added information furnished by the orbital periods and mutual recurrences, the angle of crossing, and the orbital inclinations and latitudes.

   For example, all centaurs share certain characteristics derived from the orbits that define them as a group.  They all can be included in at least 3 basic categories:

   1- Their sphere of action.  They all work at the level of Saturn through Pluto; therefore their sphere of action is very different from the level at which the regular asteroids of the main belt between Mars and Jupiter work, much faster and closer to Earth.  Their slow motion means that their transits can be used to map the great breakthroughs in the life of a person as we are used in the case of the planets from Saturn onwards.  They are "visitors" from the trans-Neptunian, Plutonian world, which through them becomes more human, more compassionate, closer to us.

   2- Their marginality.  They are a clear minority among minor planets, less in number than all the other dynamical asteroid groups, and --because of their large orbital eccentricity-- they are "marginal", i.e., "do not belong" to a specific place but "wander" through the space dominated by the giant planets of the outer solar system, in many cases more or less aggressively crossing their orbits or "invading" their spheres.  They are "renegades" that do not belong to an established, institutionalized world, which in turn they "intercept" or "break", carrying a symbolism very similar to that of Cain in the Genesis story.

   3- Their instability.  The orbits of centaurs, because of the way they intercept the distance range of the giant planets, are subject to very strong gravitational attractions or perturbations that make them unstable and "precarious", with a tendency to become chaotic or unpredictable in a few thousand years only. They are "crude" and "wild", with a tendency to be aggressive, but --unlike Pluto-- their orbits are "sick" and "tremble", destined to be transformed or die as a result of their crossing the paths of the giant planets.  They are therefore related to pain and to death, but also to rapture, unconditioning, and freedom.

   As a well-established orbit-crossing category, centaurs tend to be dynamically unique, strongly differentiated astronomically from the world of the main-belt asteroids.  They separate from the others by breaking the image of "a ring" or "a belt" usually associated with asteroids, to follow their own excentric path.  This singularity makes them "special", and experience shows that they are intense and powerful, in concordance with the large sweep of their slow motion and high eccentricity, in a way almost inversely proportional to their small size.

   In practical terms, as part of the mathematical-astronomical model, we use celestial mechanics (orbital behavior), as a metaphor that models or "screens" the astrological characteristics of the centaurs, so we concentrate on the orbits, which are perceived as an interplay ("music") making the particular characteristics evident by differentiation or contrast in their movement, like a dance. I like to use the words "orbital gesture", and compare it with the movement of the hands and arms when someone is speaking.  It is not conceptual, but similar to listening to music. From the effect the music produces on you, you "know" without knowing what it is. As I imagine this "orbital gesture", a moving, living image appears in my mind which "whispers" to me. Then, it becomes a matter of identifying in the specific event or experience or feeling being charted that same quality that the music or movement or gesture is producing in my imagination.

   An example is the image of wings and of light that I often get from Pholus. It comes from its orbital behavior, the way I perceive it, and also from the sound qualities of its name, joined to my subjective perception of some of the people who have it focal. The centaur-myth is not in this picture. It is true that apparently, the "regular" orbits --rounder-- would appear as "mute", but this doesn't happen when seen in comparison, in the interplay. It is a question of images: you can imagine the massive giants being crossed and "ringed" by the smaller and unstable asteroids, and this puts in evidence the characteristics of both. In other words, it is an imaginative language, like that of mythology.

   As an illustration, let's consider, imaginatively, the main-belt asteroid named "Nemesis" (#128):

   "Nemesis": one utters the word and listens to it... a fast sound; a cycle of nearly 4 years and an orbit or way of moving , of acting, a physical gesture, that is wholly conventional, placid, circumscribed, with no highs or lows.  Circumscribed to what?  To one aspect of Nemesis, one "face" of the archetype which is necessarily limited by the particular nature of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

   Which face of the archetype?  What is the nature of the asteroid belt compared with Uranus and with Pluto?  What aspect of the archetype cannot be expressed in the asteroid belt and needs other bodies to do that?

   If we listen, for example, to the apocalyptic gesture of an object like TL66, with a period of 800 years (200 times slooooooowwwwwwer), going away from the solar system until it disappears in the remote darkness of the unknown, and coming again centuries later, travelling 7 or 8 times faster than when it is far away, breaking through the orbital realm of Pluto until it "kisses" that of Neptune, like the visitation of a dark giant comet, only to go away again and disappear soon after that, then we say:

"N E E E E E E E M M M M E E E E S S I I I I I S S S S S S S S!"

... and the sound of a cosmic "N" and a cosmic "M" stays sizzling ("S") and resonating ("M"), like the effects of a terrific wind that has just passed.



II. THE ORBITAL PARADIGM

   From a primal astrological perspective, and since the most ancient times, planets are essentially points of light that move orderly and predictably against the background of the fixed stars.  Movement is therefore part of their essence, and their symbolical attributions in classical Astrology are a reflection of the particular characteristics of their motion as seen from a geocentric point of view.

   For example, Saturn's very slow motion placed it at the edge of the known world, as the last of the concentric heavenly spheres next to the inmortal world of the fixed stars, and from which came the symbolical associations with earthly wisdom and with old age.

   From the observed planetary motions, the ancients derived abstract/geometric representations aimed at modelling and predicting each planet's position at any moment of time, the so-called "epicycles" of the Ptolemaic system, which were later refined after Copernicus and Kepler and became the heliocentric orbits with which we are familiar today.

   Each orbit contains the essence of the planet's astrological characteristics, putting in evidence what we may call "the orbital paradigm", which implies that orbital characteristics are the mental model or the point of reference that we use for the elaboration of the different analogies and metaphorical associations that constitute planetary symbolism.

   One of the best examples of the central role of the orbital paradigm in Astrology can be seen in the astrological attributions of the planet Uranus.  At the core of its characteristics is always the fact that Uranus "breaks" the ancient order signified by Saturn and opens the door to the new, challenging conventions and emphasizing individuality against the orthodox rules of Saturn.  These characteristics are based on the position its orbit has in the solar system, one step beyond Saturn.

   Orbital symbolism was used --for example-- by Marc Edmund Jones exclusively to explain all the astrological characteristics of the principal planets in his "Astrology How and Why It Works" (1943), and also by Dane Rudhyar, who explains it in "The Practice of Astrology" (1969) and who used it very extensively throughout all his works.  It is the basis of the humanistic understanding of the roles of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in modern Astrology.

   This emphasis on orbital symbolism has also been present in centaur research since the discovery of Chiron in 1977.  Unlike the main-belt asteroids (such as Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta), which have orbits circumscribed to the region between Mars and Jupiter and whose astrological meanings were heavily dependent on mythology, Chiron represented both to astronomers and to astrologers a challenge of definition due to its odd orbit: it was the first slow-motion asteroid that belonged to the outer solar system, and its orbit overlapped that of Uranus and Saturn, swinging between both.  The name "Chiron", half one thing and half the other, is a reflection of this.

   It was Chiron's astronomical oddity and the work of pioneers such as Zane Stein, who relied on orbital symbolism rather than mythology, what established a precedent in centaur research in which the orbit is "read" and interpreted as a model of the astrological characteristics found or confirmed by empirical evidence.  When the other centaurs were discovered beginning with Pholus in 1992, it became evident that their orbits stood out and were dramatic when compared with those of the regular planets that they traversed.  Centaurs dramatize the "orbital gestures", their orbits are more eloquent, and in the future they will inevitably help us redefine the astrological role of the outer planets, such as Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto helped redefine the roles of Jupiter and Saturn in the past.
 


III. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ORBIT

   Every orbit is described by a set of numerical parameters that refer to its shape and its orientation with respect to time and space in the structure of the solar system.  For our purposes, we can describe these parameters as an imaginative tree with branches which are a set of numbers and quantities called "the elements of the orbit" describing the trajectory of the planet over time.

   A better metaphor is that of a musical score, made out of abstract mathematical proportions represented in space that describe something that happens in time.  Like the flow of music, the imaginative representation of an orbital trajectory, when compared to the other trajectories, will speak to the imagination due to its relative placement in the whole and its particular shape and "gesture"; like the different themes in a large-scale symphonic movement, the orbital trajectory or gesture acquires meaning when it is seen (or "heard") with respect to other themes or sounds of the composition.

   The word "gesture" regarding an orbital trajectory can be better understood if we think on how we naturally "draw" images, emotions, and sounds with our hands when we speak to an audience.  Hands make unconscious movements and gestures that describe shapes in the air which are geometrical analogies of what we are trying to convey; these movements of the hands produce strong impressions in the audience and are an integral part of the message being transmitted.  When we interpret the orbital gestures of the planets, especially those with "dramatic" orbits like the centaurs, we are doing imaginatively the same thing that we do when we inadvertently contemplate the hand-gestures of a good story-teller.  The gestures are intrinsic to the nature of what is being told, and to the personality of the teller.

The orbital characteristics are essentially of 3 types:

a-) those that describe the position the object occupies in the solar system, expressed in terms of distance from the Sun and the speed or frequency with which it moves (the semi-major axis and distance range, transformed into velocity by means of Kepler's third law).  Distant, slow-moving trajectories are like the low frequency sounds in music...

b-) those that describe the shape of the orbit (a combination of eccentricity and semi-major axis), which determines the type of gesture, the "curve" the orbit describes in space, the motion of the object from aphelion to perihelion, the changes and contrast in velocity, the perihelion "visitations" and the aphelion "stand-stills", the coming and the "going away".

c-) those that describe the orientation or "attitude", the "perspective" of the orbit, its capacity to "dive", to "hover", to "plunge" or in general its vertical orientation in space, how much it can get away from horizontality, expressed in the orbital inclination and the argument of latitude of the perihelion.  The orbital inclination is one of the least studied orbital characteristics so far.

   In the case of the centaurs, the combination of a-) and b-) results in one of their main characteristics: their orbital crossing or interception, of which we have had in astrology for decades the example of Pluto crossing the orbit of Neptune. Pluto also made us aware of the possible meaning of orbital inclination, and is in fact the model and the fore-bearer of all centaurs, which are considered to have physically originated in the same region of space as Pluto.


IV.

   In the past, the heliocentric distance was conceived geocentrically, as a series of concentric "crystalline" spheres increasingly away from the Earth and ordered according to the planet's velocity, starting with the Moon (hence the expression "the sublunar world" or "sphere" to refer to the Earth's realm above the surface) and ending with Saturn, next to which was the sphere of the fixed stars.  Man's spiritual experience after death or during "initiation" was conceived as a journey of ascension through successively purer spheres, starting with the Lunar sphere next to the Earth (the so-called "astral world") and ending in the spheres of Saturn and the Fixed Stars, which were the abode of the purest or virgin souls and the highest spiritual beings in the hierarchy of heavens.

   Today the planetary "spheres" are no longer conceived as geocentric circles but as mathematical abstractions of the planet's trajectory in space around the Sun (the heliocentric orbit), which describes an ellipse with the Sun at one of the "centers" or foci; but we can still speak of "realms" or "worlds", i.e., the "realm of Uranus", the "realm" of Saturn, etc. These realms result from the fact that the solar system is ordered or structured and are defined mathematically as "rings" established by the distance range of the planet from perihelion (the closest it can get to the Sun) to aphelion (the farthest it can get to the Sun).

   Technically, the distance range or ring is determined by means of 2 orbital parameters called "semimajor axis" and "eccentricity".  The semimajor axis is equivalent to the mean solar distance and is defined as half the distance from the aphelion to the perihelion points.  It is measured --as all distances in the solar system-- in canonical units called "astronomical units" (AU), where 1 AU is equal to the mean solar distance of the Earth (at the time it was measured by Gauss in the early 19th century).  The eccentricity is a dimensionless quantity which measures the distance between the 2 foci of the orbit; an eccentricity of "0" is a perfect circle, and an eccentricity of "1" is a parabolic orbit.  All other values between "0" and "1" are ellipses. The eccentricity (the "e" parameter) is what gives the orbit its more (high "e") or less (low "e") elongated elliptical shape.

   The semimajor axis of the principal planets are quantities that should be memorized by the astrologer.  Given the semimajor axis of any centaur or asteroid, we can immediately know the "mean" or "average" place it occupies in the structure of the solar system, i.e., relative to the spheres or realms of the principal planets, which, astrologically, is the same as knowing the place the object has in the hierarchy, or the structure, of the solar system, the place a specific planet has in the whole, the level at which a planet is working in the structure of reality, its sphere or domain.

Let's see the mean semimajor axis (the "a" parameter) of the principal planets:

Mercurio =   0.39  (e=0.2056)
Venus    =   0.72  (e=0.0068)
Tierra   =   1.00  (e=0.0167)
Marte    =   1.52  (e=0.0934)
Júpiter  =   5.20  (e=0.0485)
Saturno  =   9.56  (e=0.0555)
Urano    =  19.22  (e=0.0463)
Neptuno  =  30.11  (e=0.0090)
Plutón   =  39.54  (e=0.2491)

With these numbers we can calculate the aphelion and perihelion distance range or "ring" with a very simple formula:

perihelion distance (the " q " parameter):

q = a ( 1 - e )

aphelion distance (the " Q " parameter):

Q = a ( 1 + e )

As an example, let's calculate the distance range of Pluto:

e = 0.249
a = 39.541
q = 39.541 x ( 1 - 0.249 ) = 29.695
Q = 39.541 x ( 1 + 0.249 ) = 49.387

  In other words, the "range of movement" or "distance ring" of Pluto reaches from 49.4 AU at aphelion to 29.7 AU at perihelion, putting in evidence how it "crosses" or "intercepts" the orbit of Neptune and is closer to the Sun than Neptune at perihelion.  This means that Pluto, in the outer rim of the solar system, is historically the fore-runner or dynamical prototype of the centaurs.  Although Pluto is a transneptunian object and not a centaur, the centaurs have originated in the same region that Pluto and have similar Plutonian qualities, like Pluto's "offspring" expressing themselves at a different level, in the Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus-Neptune world, closer to us and more "human" or "humane".

V.

   Before going deeper into the possibilities offered by orbital metaphors we must consider the range and distance characteristics of the centaurs.

   The word "centaurs" is used by astronomers to refer loosely to a group of asteroids that have their distance range somewhere between Jupiter and Neptune or Pluto. There are to this date (May 14 2001) 28 objects that can be or have been classified as centaurs, but we will examine only those that have orbits accurate enough to be used for research.  We will exclude 12 whose ephemeris uncertainty after 10 years is more than 5 arcminutes (0,05'), and will consider only the remaining 16, whose positions throughout the 20th century will change little (probably less than half a degree in most cases) as the orbit is improved with new observations.

   Here is the list, with the semimajor axis ("a"), distance range ("r") and eccentricity ("e"), the quantities we need for the theoretical and symbolical development that will follow:

2000GM137  a=  7.84, r=  6- 8, e= 0.114
1998SG35   a=  8.22, r=  5-10, e= 0.321
1999UG5    a= 12.33, r=  7-18, e= 0.401
Chiron     a= 13.52, r=  8-18, e= 0.382
Chariklo   a= 15.78, r= 13-18, e= 0.171
Pylenor    a= 16.74, r= 11-21, e= 0.303
1999XX143  a= 17.85, r=  9-26, e= 0.460
Asbolus    a= 17.97, r=  6-29, e= 0.621
1998QM107  a= 20.19, r= 17-22, e= 0.135
Pholus     a= 20.26, r=  8-31, e= 0.571
2000FZ53   a= 23.67, r= 12-34, e= 0.478
Nessus     a= 24.57, r= 11-37, e= 0.519
Hylonome   a= 25.06, r= 18-30, e= 0.247
1998TF35   a= 26.21, r= 16-36, e= 0.379
1999OX3    a= 32.24, r= 17-47, e= 0.459
1998BU48   a= 33.38, r= 20-46, e= 0.387

  Typically, centaurs have orbits of high eccentricity, i.e., their orbits are very elongated, in contrast with the orbits of the major planets which normally tend to be circular.  This means that dynamically and physically they are objects of a different nature even though they move in the same region of the outer planets.  Like Pluto, their aphelion-perihelion distance range is enormous, and many of them traverse the region of several or all of the outer planets in a row, like homeless nomads or voyagers, crossing or intercepting the outer planets' distance rings, linking what otherwise is forever separate, "jumping" from one level or step of the ladder to the next, moving directly towards the Sun --like many comets do, to which they are related in many ways-- instead of around it.

   Now let's see the distance range in more detail, in terms of perihelion and aphelion compared with the "rings" of the main planets, so that what the numbers say about spatial distribution can be better visualized:

============> JUPITER
1998SG35  5.8
Asbolus   6.8
2000GM137 6.9
1999UG5   7.5
Chiron    8.4
Pholus    8.7
============> SATURN
1999XX143  9.7
1994TA    11.8
Nessus    11.8
2000FZ53  12.4
Chariklo  13.1
1998TF35  16.3
1998QM107 17.3
1999OX3   17.5
Hylonome  18.8
============> URANUS
1998BU48  20.5

This list was according to the perihelion distance "q".  The list according to aphelion distances ("Q") is as follows:

2000GM137  8.8
============> SATURN
1998SG35  11.0
1999UG5   18.2
Chariklo  18.5
Chiron    18.8
============> URANUS
1994TA    21.9
1998QM107 22.7
1999XX143 26.3
Asbolus   29.0
============> NEPTUNE
Hylonome  31.0
Pholus    31.9
2000FZ53  34.9
1998TF35  36.5
Nessus    37.0
1998BU48  46.4
1999OX3   47.0
============> APHELION OF PLUTO

   These numerical data show what we can see in the graphics of their orbits. For example, during its perihelion Chiron "penetrates" the sphere of Saturn and during the aphelion it approaches the sphere of Uranus without "crossing" it or intercepting its heliocentric distance.  Nevertheless, if we take into consideration the concept of the "distance ring" of a planet, defined by the area or the ring between the aphelion and the perihelion distances, we find that it is possible for Chiron to intercept not the heliocentric distance of Uranus (the astronomer's loose definition of "crossing") but its perihelion distance.

   Let's see a concrete example, using the data of the last orbital cycle of Chiron.  The complete crossing and distance-ring interception dates from 1700 to 2020 can be found at:

http://www.expreso.co.cr/centaurs/astronom/crossings/chironcross.html

   On March 7, 1943, at the peak of World War II, Chiron intercepts Saturn's heliocentric distance and goes "inside" of it, in the direction of the Sun. It reached its perihelion August 29, 1945, the same month of the atomic explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  It then began its voyage back to his "home" (the aphelion) towards the Uranian region.  It entered the Uranian ring (crossed the Uranus perihelion distance) September 17, 1965, and reached aphelion December 7, 1970, without ever having intercepted the Uranus true heliocentric distance.


VI. THE SPHERE OF ACTION

   One cannot work with asteroids without defining their scope.  This scope and their domain is delimited by the place they occupy in the solar system, which represents a ladder and is a function of the planet's velocity or distance to the Earth or the Sun.

To the scope and domain one must add the form of action, because an asteroid of very large eccentricity acts very differently from one with a very circular orbit.  944 Hidalgo --very eccentric-- acts in a very different way from Ceres --almost circular.  Very eccentric orbits become crossers between one planetary sphere and the other, or between several spheres or domains in a row.

   This is an astronomical fact.  It is how an asteroid moves heliocentrically. From there one follows the paradigm: if this is how it moves in the solar system, if this is how it acts astronomically, then its astrological characteristics must be an expression of this movement in scope, domain, and form of action.

   This does not contradict what people working with asteroids have found to be their astrological characteristics.  It delimits it in order to be able to organize the information and integrate their function within the whole, avoiding the infinite expansion of meanings and associations, understanding in what way a Centaur or a trans- Neptunian (slow moving and/or very eccentric, crossing several planetary spheres in its motion) differs from those that are very close to the Earth and move very fast, or those that move almost in circles (the traditional main-belt asteroids).

   The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, considered collectively, establishes a clear and obvious separation between the world of the gas giants, the transcendences of existence (slow-moving), where by definition all the centaurs have their home, and the much faster world of the inner or terrestrial planets.  The physical and dynamical differences between the two worlds are fundamental.

   We have a set of small planets whose motion is almost totally controlled by the Sun, i.e. their mutual perturbations or gravitational interactions are small, then the asteroid belt, like a colony of the world of the fixed stars inside the Solar System, and then, beyond the belt, we are in a world of giants that are able to gravitationally push and pull the Sun enough to make it swing around the Barycenter of the Solar System.

   If we are to make the analogy between a human being and the solar system, we could imagine the asteroid belt like a sort of navel dividing the higher from the lower part of the body, or the higher brain and consciousness functions (the transcendences) and the bodily or vital functions (the terrestrial planets).

   Of course, we can reverse this and say the slow planets represent our "unconscious" lower functions and the faster planets (Sun, Mercury, etc.) our "conscious" part, which is the more superficial or obvious way one would think.  But this doesn't matter.  My point is simply that structurally the Solar System is clearly divided between inner and outer, and that this notion is important to understand the nature of the centaurs, whose sphere of action is the outer solar system.

   The inner solar system, from the asteroid belt inwards (the terrestrial planets, the world of Apollo asteroids, etc.) is the "micro" scale, while the centaurean world is "macro" (and the transneptunian is a sort of "cosmic" or *historical* scale).  Then, the "Jupiter group" (1998SG35, 1999LE31, 2000GM137) is transitional, and the asteroid belt is the "meso" scale, like a sort of very open market of possibilities and multitudinous variations of centering, stabilizing, adaptive, assimilative activity, like a ring that holds together and at the same time separates the 2 worlds, like a barrier, a membrane, a protective ring which in society is represented by social institutions and the divisions of labor.

   Let's imagine for a moment that only the planets up to Jupiter exist.  How would be the world without Saturn?  I we answer this question, we may be able to understand the sphere in which fast asteroids move, where there is no Saturn and the farthest we can go is Jupiter.  How would Astrology be if there were no slow-moving planets?  If you make a reading that does not include Saturn, you will be approaching what it means to make an asteroid astrological reading based on fast-moving asteroids, excluding centaurs, and transneptunians, with innumerable details but without "weight or transcendence.

   Frequently, I have come to see working with fast asteroids similar to shopping at the local market; a big open Sunday market in the main plaza is an excellent analogy of the meaning of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.  Another analogy is a street scene in a play: many people in different activities sharing horizontally a common place.  This is an apt astronomical description of the asteroid belt.

   Death is without a doubt one of the transcendental facts of life, together with birth, sexual initiation, and marriage (this last one not so much lately!). To understand the scope of the fast asteroids, let's imagine the common social context of these experiences or events: the meaning they have is recognized by everybody, there are a series of rules of behavior or rituals expected from those that participate in them, giving and receiving support and solidarity, and society as a whole acknowledges their transcendence and contributes with social and religious ceremonies so that the individual can successfully go through them; there are public recognitions, celebrations and festivals (or parties); families get together with gestures of affection and generosity, and we are also given the right, the space, and the time for our intimacy.

   Amidst this world of social cohesion maintained through a "pact" between the people, there are many elements, such as the thieve, the mentally ill, the poet, the person in love, the immature, the alcoholic, the prostitute, the car-racer, the diver, the rock singer, etc., that engage in "marginal" activities outside this order, as if wishing to break it: these are the orbit-crossers or interceptors among the fast asteroids (Phaethon, Icarus, Amor, Bacchus...), acting as "meteors" that passionately irrupt and dramatize the contingent and fragile, "chaotic" character of existence and of the supposed order, which actually is always living hand-in-hand with chaos.

   But somehow order always seems to assimilate the chaotic forces, and society always keeps its cohesion, the pact remains.

   Now let's think in the world beyond Saturn, the world that opens forward and outward, expanding beyond this institutionalized universe, the world of the unconscious or the unmanageable that is not possible to assimilate and is similar to the great floods that sweep everything away: divorce, revolution (Uranus), proliferation of cultures and beliefs (Neptune), the psychological walls that kill individuality so characteristic of the Xxth Century (Pluto). It is here where the centaurs move, slow and self transcending, like Neptunian-Plutonian misiles, intense and poignant, travelling trough the outer solar system , crossing space with "large wings" (very long orbital periods and very elongated "crossing" orbits).


VII. EXAMPLE

   To illustrate the orbital domain and gesture of centaurs, we can consider, for example, the sphere of action of 1181 Lilith, a normal asteroid of the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, and compare it with that of the centaurs. [NOTE: This part is based on previous notes I wrote collected here

   We must make distinctions between the realm of the centaurs and the realm of the main-belt asteroids.  One cannot talk of a slow planet the same way one talks of a fast-moving planet.  Centaurs move 20 to 40 times slower than the main-belt asteroids, and this requires that we adjust the meaning we give to them or at least the way we interpret them.

   1181 Lilith works within the bounds of present-day social values, which fits the characteristics of the orbit, similar to the many other "facets" and "divisions of labor" of modern-day living that I see relate to the main belt asteroids where 1181 is found.

   I would take any description of a main-belt asteroid like 1181 Lilith and try to accommodate it inside the limits of the asteroid belt: they must live in community; so asteroid 1181 Lilith could represent those aspects of the Lilith archetype that are expressed in their most "civilized" or mediated form.

   This is where it becomes important to consider the centaurs *together* with the main belt asteroids to differentiate the qualities of one and the other, where one sees a division of labor and not a duplication.

   There are many asteroids (e.g. Hekate) with myths which do not match the orbits at all.  That is why it is necessary to accommodate people's experience with 1181 Lilith within the framework offered by main-belt orbits: a very large collectivity working together in community without breaking the social order.

   The idea I am proposing is that all these archetypes have different ways or "levels" of expression.  The level that corresponds to asteroids of the main-belt with regular-shaped orbits is everyday institutionalized living. That is why the 1181 Lilith aspect of the Lilith archetype finds expression in --for example-- the social worker: it is bounded and institutionalized, and its aim is social integration: this is the dynamics of this type of asteroids. "Lilith" here brings the socially marginal or rejected into society's institutions, and is more integrative.

   But there are other aspects of Lilith that cannot be institutionalized. They are more primal and wild, "breaking into" or invading a person's life (centaurs), or more instinctive and related to repressed sexuality (succubi and nightly demons, related to the lunar apogee).  Of course words are very relative, but it is not difficult to see the differences when one keeps in mind the 3 realms: the lunar realm, esp.  The lunar orbit and its dark side, the asteroids of the main belt, the centaurean-plutonian tabu-breaking and moral trespassing, etc.

   If there are "rebels" and "wild" asteroids, then this has to show in their orbits.  Normal main belt asteroids do not show this behavior.  I'm following a paradigm that states that astronomical reality must match astrological symbolism.  The orbit of 1181 Lilith does not belong to this category of "rebels".  There are bodies that enter the asteroid belt but do not belong there (like Hidalgo or the Damocles group) and there are others that travel from one extreme to the other of the main belt but never leave (like Hopi). We can always find an orbit that models the social behavior we are looking for or want to chart.

   The orbits of most centaurs, almost by definition are "on the margins" of the solar system: they "cross" the orbits of others, they do not "belong" to a specific place, they are "in-between", "out" of the mainstream, unstable, chaotic, precarious, "sick", "resented", wounded", etc...

   The orbit of Lilith is not like this. 1181 belongs to very large community of orbits that are very stable, all bounded in the space between Mars and Jupiter... it never goes out like all the centaurs do... and it also moves much faster, 20 to 40 times faster than the centaurs...

   Modern society's institutions all deal with people who are "different" (the mentally retarded, the cripple, the deaf or the blind, the refugee, the very poor or very "ugly", the minority...). I can see 1181 Lilith's "integrative" work here.  These people (or my fear of them) are all part of the community in which we live.  They are given rights, protection by the law, social institutions to help them.

   There is a whole system instituted for them.  They are not "wild", they are not dangerous, they are just different and need special attention and care... the prostitute, the poor minority, the homeless, the mad, the widow, the very old... etc.

   This is all very much main-belt asteroids territory.  They are all "bounded" and controlled, under the control of social institutions... so maybe Centaurs are not like this, they are wild and break everything, they trespass, and wound, and kill, and also bring ecstasy, redemption, un-conditioning, etc.

 Centaurs reach well beyond these boundaries and make you "fall" into a crack that becomes a menace to the social order (the orbit-crossing).  Female centaurs are in this respect less aggressive than the male ones,  i. e., Chariklo never crosses Saturn and only gently crosses Uranus for a few years, although it stays between the world of Saturn and Uranus, leaning much more toward Uranus.

   For example, a married woman (Chariklo) who is very "independent" about her sex life... which of course most times means a crack, a division of her womanhood, a wound, a painful conflict with the rules of society: this is the centaurean paradigm.  A (female) centaur, in this context, will transgress limits that 1181 never would.

   Let's take for example a social worker who deals with street prostitutes. His/her work is institutionalized, is "professional"... this is the Lilith part: the daily living, the values, the problems, the opportunities, the help they receive, their dealings with the police, their "humanity" and at the same time marginality, the prejudices, the abuses, the cruelty or indifference with which they are treated, etc. How I deal with all this is 1181 Lilith.

   But when you, as a social worker, "touch" the other person's wound, or to put it differently, the other person's wound touches you --which is the same as touching your wound-- then you are out of it completely and you cannot handle it any more, It ceases being institutionalized and becomes primal and wild.  It is a question of life and death, of agony and ecstasy, there are no answers available, only pain, and grace, and joy, and passion... then you don't give a damn, you are "taken" by the centaur's energy and you do a moral trespassing, and pay the price.

   The father rapes his daughter, the married woman opens herself to her lover, the "door opens" and light and darkness come together and live in your wound, and in the wound you inflicted on others.

   This is the centaurs!

   Of course, this is a hypothesis, based on the orbital paradigm: centaurs represent the wild and hostile (also ecstatic and redemptive) qualities, while main-belt asteroids represent the "civilized" and more gregarious and "tame" part of the archetype.  This is necessary if we want astronomical symbolism to match the astrological use we make of it.


Juan Antonio Revilla
San José, Costa Rica
written in 2001

 


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