RICHARD WAGNER
AND THE CENTAURS

   1- INTRODUCTION

      I would like to propose some characteristics of Pholusian relationships, derived from the material in the previous articles and confirmed by the Wagner material offered here. They are the following:

      1- Both parties cross their own boundaries and become a little more of the other. This would be the main clue regarding Pholus as a crosser of boundaries. It is also a clue to the transformational "fairy tale" aspect of Pholus, of the toad that becomes a Prince, of Ugly Duckling, of a lizard with wings, or of Man touching God's hand in the Sistine Chapel...

      2- The relationship is very intense and may seem "miraculous" and liberating, but makes the two parties very vulnerable, it is dangerous and unstable, and ultimately is broken. I and not-I are "touching" themselves, living in communion, but neither one belongs to the other's world. This is, for example, Schopenhauer's pholusian influence in Wagner as it manifests in the erotic phenomenology of "Tristan und Isolde"

      3- The confrontation with this "other" companion forces the individual to go to his limits and establish a dialog with himself that expands his being beyond life into death, since by eliminating this "other", the individual also condemns himself to death. Then he can be reborn into a new "pholusian" life-and-death dimension of being. If this goes wrong, the result is destructive for both.

      Wagner's mythological musical dramas are very pholusian in this respect not only because of the subject-matter but because of the intensity of the relationships and emotions involved, which become an enactment of our own inner spiritual/erotic dramas, showing us how vulnerable we all are in matters of the heart. The Welsungs, Sigmund and Sieglinde, for example, are incarnations of Pholus: they are primal "soul-mates", companion wolves who found each other in the wilderness.

     Wagner's operatic treatment of mythology is extremely dramatic and heroic, focusing on archetypal moral and spiritual truths that are treated allegorically and which are centaur matters par excellence. Particularly in his last operas, Wagner's music is extremely intense and enrapturing, which seems to accompany, parallel to the operas, a profound process happening in the heart of the listener/expectator, coming from his or her own experiences regarding love, death, and redemption.
 

   2- PARSIFAL

     Richard Wilhelm Wagner was born at sunrise May 22 1813 in Leipzig. His natal Sun is in 0,35 Gemini, and Venus is only 54' away, applying to the conjunction, in 29,41 Taurus. So it is no wonder that he produced such powerful music "of the heart". But he was obsessed with the motif of love and how it is a redeeming power that is consummated only after death, in the self-sacrifice of the subject to save and heal the object of love.

      He died February 13, 1883, just after transiting Pluto had made the first pass over his Sun and Venus conjunction, which was exact from the middle of the previous year, 1882. It was then that he completed "Parsifal", the spiritual legacy to mankind of this most fabolous genius. And it was there, in the Parsifal story, where he was able to portray in music a pain so intense and powerful that went beyond what imagination can conceive. This was the pain of Christ, which in the story appears as the lacerating wound of Amfortas, the King of the Grail.

      But in the story the pain and the wound are healed. The paradigmatic wound of being human, divided between lust and spirit, was healed! In his previous operas, such as the "Ring" cycle, the world is renewed  only after Brunhilde sacrifices herself in the final immolation scene. In Parsifal, tragedy becomes forgiveness and there is life instead of death, love instead of pain.

      You may think that this was brought about by transiting Pluto making the conjunction with Wagner's natal Sun/Venus conjunction. This is enough for a consecration of the immense transcendence of Pluto. But there is more. There are the centaurs. Remember Wagner's natal conjunction:

      Sun = 0,35 Gemini
      Venus = 29,41 Taurus

Chiron was in a rare conjunction with Pluto 3 times when Wagner died:

      June 1883 = 0,23 Gem
      Dec 1883 = 29,50 Tau
      Mar 1884 = 29,31 Tau

      So it was Pluto/Chiron over his Sun/Venus, rounding-up his death, that tells the spiritual story of his monumental  production in life.

     (There is a very striking astrological parallel with the positions at the time of death of Emily Bronte, the author of Wuthering Heights. She was born at the time of a Chriron and Pluto conjunction). 
 

   3- SCHOPENHAUER

      When Uranus was passing over the same natal Sun/Venus conjunction, 24 years before in 1859, at the age of 46, he was hopelessly and rapturously in love with Mathilde Wesendonk, the wife of his friend and benefactor and 15 years younger than him, who was the inspiration to compose "Tristan und Isolde". This classical Uranus affair (see below for Mathilde's data and planets) ended in the termination of his 20 year marriage with Minna. And it was about this time, too, that he became acquainted with the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, which was to become the main influence behind his dramas, especially his "Tristan".

      To Schopenhaeur, according to Joseph Campbell ("Creative Mythology"), "love is the great transforming power that converts the will to live into its opposite and reveals thereby a dimension of truth beyond the world dominion of King Death: beyond the boundaries of space and time and the turbulent ocean, within these bounds, of our life's conflicting centers of self-interest". According to Campbell, Schopenhauer's ideas "can be read, now, as the grounding theme not only of Wagner's 'Tristan' but also of his 'Parsifal' --and of the 'Ring der Nibelungen' as well".

      Schopenhauer was born February 22, 1788 in Danzig and died September 21, 1860. According to the "Internet Horoskopdatenbank", he was born at 18h35m (17:20 GMT):

      Sun = 3,50 Pisces
      Wagner's birth Pholus = 3,50 Virgo

      Pluto = 16,18 Aquarius
      Wagner's birth Moon = 16,05 Aquarius

      Pholus = 25,04 Aquarius
      Wagner's death Sun = 24,36 Aquarius

      This double Sun/Pholus relationship at death/birth is very strong, and is telling us that Pholus has a lot to do with how Schopenhauer's thoughts are "taken" by Wagner. They can be seen everywhere in particular in "Tristan und Isolde", which, as we shall see, is dated August 6, 1859. We have:

      Tristan's Sun = 13,36 Leo
      Tristan's Hylonome = 12,57 Leo
      Schopenhauer's death Venus = 12,43 Leo
      Wagner's lunar node = 13 Leo

      Schopenhauer died only one year later, under a conjunction of Pholus and Mars in opposition to his natal Uranus. This Pholus at death, in 27,02 Capricorn (Mars in 26,31 Cap / natal Uranus 26,47 Cancer), is the same as the 'Tristan' opera's Pholus one year before (26,44), and as we will see, is the very exact (less tha 1') midpoint between Venus and Nessus in 29 and 23 Cancer respectively, in the chart of "Tristan".
 

   3- ISOLDES'S LIEBESTOD

      We have Wagner's signature and expressly written time at the conclusion of his 'Tristan und Isolde': August 6, 1859, 4:30 p.m. in Lucerne:

      Venus 29,30 Cancer (8th house)
      Neptune 26,49 Pisces

      Moon 25,48 Scorpio
      Asbolus 26,04 Taurus
      Mathilde Wesendonk's Venus 25,35 Scorpio
      Wagner's Uranus 25,45 Scorpio

      This is making an exact T-cross with Schopenhauer's Pholus and Wagner's Sun at death mentioned above.

      A water grand trine among these three planets can be related to the mystical ecstasy of love at the opera's end, when Isolde dies holding her dead lover in her arms. But this is too spreaded-out, too passive; Isolde's "liebestod" is the most powerful and emotionally enrapturing music that has ever been written, nothing passive, but the highest peak of the romantic movement of the 19th century.

      One also finds, in the middle of the 8th house:

      Sun 13,36 Leo
      Hylonome 12,57 Leo
      Saturn 15,34 Leo
      Wagner's birth lunar node 13,18 Leo

NOTE: when this essay was written, I had not studied the meaning of 1995DW2, which later was given the name "Hylonome" by astronomers following a suggestion by our centaur study group. The myth of the beautiful Hylonome throwing her body on the spear that had just killed her lover, and dying with him, is an archetypal expression of Isolde's liebestod. (see my "Notes on Hylonome") 

      This can be related to Isolde's heart "imploding" to death and Wagner's own hopeless love for Mathilde Wesendonk that inspired him to write his all-emotional and barriers-breaking opera, but still we don't find the powerful musical rapture of Isolde's death...

      We need Pluto! It is in Taurus 8,32, not too prominent. Pluto waited 23 more years until it was over Wagner's natal Sun/Venus almost partile conjunction, when he finished his "Parsifal" and died consecrated by this ominous Pluto signature of his life and creation...

     So, what we have left is the centaurs:

      Venus 29,30 Cancer
      Nessus 23,57 Cancer
      midpoint = 26,44 Cancer
      Pholus 26,44 Capricorn (orb=0,00)

      Venus and Nessus surrounding the cusp of the 8th house describe the lovers' death-wish, brought to consummation by Pholus, which gives an enrapturing momentum to the Sun and Saturn will to die, and to the Moon-Venus-Neptune water grand trine, which finds expression in the last words of Isolde, when she expands her feelings to the infinite:

"Resounding yet more clearly, wafting about me, are they waves of refreshing breezes? Are they billows of heavenly fragance? As they swell and roar round me, shall I breathe them, shall I listen to them? Shall I seep them, plunge beneath them, to expire in sweet perfume? In the surging swell, in the ringing sound, in the vast wave of the world's breath... to drown, to sink unconscious... supreme bliss!"


   4- HYMNS TO THE NIGHT

      At the same time that Wagner was involved in the philosophy of Schopenhauer, he read Novalis' "Hymns to the Night", where he found the extatic expression that Schopenhauer' astringent discernment lacked. Wagner wanted to make his opera an hymn to the night, an hymn to the dissolution of the soul through love, fulfilled in the expansive waves of the will to die.

      Novalis was the pseudonym of the poet Friedrich von Hardenberg, a precursor of romanticism. He was born May 2, 1772, and died March 25, 1801. At noon GMT, we have:

      Venus at birth = 24,35 Cancer
      Jupiter at death = 24,26 Cancer
      Tristan's Nessus = 23,57 Cancer
      Wagner's Asbolus = 23,38 Cancer
      Wagner's Nessus = 24,45 Aries
      Mathilde Wesendonk's Moon = 23 Cancer

      There are many other relationships, but for our purpose it is better to stop here. We can see the poetic vision of Venus in Cancer expanded by Jupiter at the time of death, and how this vision became the erotically overbearing will to die of Tristan and Isolde,  astrologically measured in great part by Nessus.

"Glory to the queen of the world,
to the great prophet of the holier worlds,
to the guardian of blissful love
she sends thee to me
thou tenderly beloved
the gracious sun of the Night,
now am I awake
for now am I thine and mine
thou hast made me know the Night
made of me a man
consume with spirit-fire my body,
that I, turned to finer air,
may mingle more closely with thee,
and then our bridal night endure forever."

(http://www.io.com/~smith/novalis/index.html)

     Not the violent, excruciating, and self-destructive pain of Amfortas, but the expansive power of a sublime and hopeless love, that in its impossibility of satisfaction becomes a burning passion, which in turn becomes the desire to die. Love-death, the potion, the unhealing and unredeeming wound, the centaur Nessus, the secret love, the owl in the night...
Einsam wachend in der Nacht
wem der Traum der Liebe lacht,
hab' der Einen Ruf in acht,
die den Schläfern Schlimmes ahnt,
bange zum Erwachen mahnt.
Habet acht! Habet acht!
Bald entweicht die Nacht...


(Alone I watch in the night: you to whom love's dream laughs, heed the cry of one who foresees ill for the sleepers and anxiously bids them awake. Take care! Take care! Soon the night will pass...) ("Brangaene's Warning", from "Tristan und Isolde")




   5- MATHILDE WESENDONK

      Mathilde Wesendonk's (1828-1902) birth data appears in Robert von Heeren's VIP list (www.centaurresearchproject.de/viplist.htm). She was born December 23, 1828, at 3h15m in 7E11/51N16. Looking for a source or a confirmation of this date, I found the following poem at www.geocities.com/vienna/strasse/1319. Unfortunately, the page has no contact information, nor is the poem signed. But I think this is a good expression of how the centaurs tend to manifest themselves in the area of relationships, particularly Pholus:

MATHILDE WESENDONCK

Mathilde Wesendonck
You are power, pain, passion, and pleasure
Rapture
The glory of exultant joy
Too generous to degenerate disciples
Too expensive for the sane
Abhorrent to balance
You transform one into addiction,
To the pursuit of your unique ecstasy,
To the overwhelming and inevitable sense
That there is nothing else,
That nothing will ever be quite the same
That one is somehow touched and set
Apart from the world by your creation.

[Personal WBS Home Page. Author's name not known] .
 



   6- CONCLUSION

    In order to better understand the meaning and implications of Wagner's Sun/Venus conjunction being transited exactly  by the Pluto/Chiron conjunction at the time of his death, in 1883, represented in 'Parsifal" and his version of the story of the Grail, I'd like to share this quote, taken from Joseph Campbell's "Creative Mythology". It refers to May 1859, when transiting Uranus was making the conjunction with his Sun/Venus, later" crucified" by Pluto/Chiron in his story of Amfortas:
 

 <<Wagner was at work in Lucerne, in May 1859, on the last act of his 'Tristan', when the analogy of Tristan's wound with the wound of Amfortas in the opera yet to be written filled him with an appalled realization of the task he had assigned himself. "What a devilish business!" he wrote at that time on a letter to Mathilde. "Imagine, in Heaven's name, what has happened! Suddenly it has become hideously clear to me: Amfortas is my Tristan of Act III in state of inconceivable intensification". "This intensification", comments Thomas Mann to this note, "was the involuntary law of life and growth of Wagner's productivity, and it derived from his own self-indulgence. He had been laboring all of his life, in fact, on the pain-and-sin-laden accents of Amfortas. They are already heard in the cry of Tannhauser: 'Alas, the weight of sin overwhelms me!' In 'Tristan' they attained to what then seemed to be the ultimate of lacerated anguish. But now, as he had realized with a shock, that would have to be surpassed in 'Parsifal' and raised to an inconceivable intensity. Actually, what he was doing was simply pressing to the limit a statement for which he had always been unconsciously seeking stronger and profounder situations and occasions. The materials of his several works represent but stages --self-transcending inflections-- of a unity, a life work self-enclosed, fully rounded, which "unfolds itself", yet in a certain manner was already there from the start.">>


    Yes! The redemptive power of love/death... Pluto at the time of his death in conjunction with his Sun/Venus at birth. But not Pluto alone: Chiron/Pluto, and all exact! Maybe that's why Amfortas' wound is healed in the end. Parsifal! Maybe this is saying something about the Chiron/Pluto conjunction due next December 30th, at the end of the Century and the beginning of the New One...
 

Juan Antonio Revilla
San Jose, Costa Rica, June 4 1999
(based on material from February/March 1999)


 
 
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