The New Planet Pholus
© Dieter Koch and Robert von Heeren , Zurich-Munich 1995-1998
Traducione Italiano da Isabella Orsini: Il nuovo pianeta Folo
Since the year 1992 a number of new minor planets have been discovered in the outer solar system (5145 Pholus, 1992 QB1, 1993 HA2 = 7066 Nessus etc.). There has already been an article by Robert von Heeren on this topic in the Mountain Astrologer, so that there is no need to repeat the whole story of these discoveries. The bodies in question are, on the one hand, a new ring of minor planets beyond Neptune, the so-called Kuiper Belt. Physically, these objects differ distinctly from both the asteroids and the comets. They are, for example, too large to be comets and too ice-like for usual asteroids. According to many astronomers Pluto himself is just one of the myriads of ice bodies out there, although, without doubt, he is by far the largest one. In this respect, he may have the same prominent position among the "Kuiperoids" as Ceres has in the inner asteroid belt. The antagonists Ceres and Pluto both rule over a realm of minor planets: the mother of all living beings in the middle of the solar system and the ruler of the underworld at its edge. Even after three years the new Transneptunians have not been given definite names, and we will probably have to wait patiently for some more years. The process of measuring the orbits of those very distant and faint objects is very lengthy and wearisome and it looks like some of them could be lost again.
Sometimes it happens that Neptune, Uranus and Saturn pull one of these Plutonians into the interior of the solar system. There he roams then for some time on a wobbly orbit till one of the giant planets - in most cases Saturn - slings him away again. Six of such previous inhabitants of the underworld - the astronomers call them "Centaurs" - have been discovered so far. Only two of them have a definite name as yet: they were discovered in 1977 and 1992 and named after Chiron and Pholus, the two wise Centaurs of the Greek mythology. All Centaurs seem to revolve around the sun on very eccentric ellipses, and in most cases they link the orbits of main planets with each other: Chiron swings between Saturn and Uranus with a revolution period of around 50 years (figure 1), Pholus between Saturn and Neptune within about 91 years (figure 2). The third Centaur was discovered in 1993. He has a period of 124 years, and links the orbit of Saturn with the sphere of Pluto (figure 3). He may be the third "key planet" that waits for us at the threshold of Saturn to guide us into the realm of a "spiritual" planet. His preliminary designation is 1993 HA2, and if the astronomers will follow mythology again, they will probably name him Nessus. The official decision is still outstanding, though. (Note from R.v.H.: The International Astronomical Union IAU decided in April 1997 for thew first time in it's history to accept our astrological naming proposal, so 1993 HA2 is now officially named "Nessus"! See next article about the "Third Centaur Nessus")
The Centaurs are key planets for the astronomers, as well. Since they are not as distant as their relatives in the Kuiper belt, they can be investigated much easier and give us information about the little-known realm of Pluto. Besides, the astronomical significance of the Chiron and Pholus lets shine trough their astrological qualities. Chiron was the only known Centaur for a long time. But he did not yield a lot of knowledge to the astronomers, only a lot of questions concerning his nature and provenance. On the other hand, the discovery of Pholus marks the beginning of an important progress in astronomy. It has yielded anwers to many questions that Chiron had raised. Only some months after Pholus - brought about by him, as it seems -, the first member of the Kuiper belt, 1992 QB1, was discovered. Both of them showed up to be very similar in their light spectra and chemical compositions. From then on, it was very clear that Chiron and Pholus were members of a group of objects that had interloped from the Kuiper belt. At the same time, the term "Centaurs" was created to designate the new category of celestial bodies. Translated into astrological terms, this means: Chiron demands from us long and helpless waiting; Pholus, on the other hand, brings us immediate progresses. The myth symbolically illustrates this by the different ways they die.
The myth of Chiron and Pholus
|In the myth Chiron und Pholus are closely related: they are considered as the only reasonable and wise Centaurs, and they are said to be philanthropic. Both are friends of Hercules´, and both inadvertently die by his poisonous arrows, while he gets entangled in a conflict with the other Centaurs. The main version of this myth is as follows: On his way to the Erymanthian mountains, where he has been sent to catch the notorious wild boar, Hercules passes by the cave of the wise Centaur Pholus and is invited for a meal. Pholus was known as the keeper of the wine of the Centaurs, a gift of the wine god Dionysos. Against Pholus´ scruples, Hercules insists on opening the jug. The smell of the godly potion immediately attracts the other centaurs and puts them into fury. They charge with torn out rocks and trees to plunder the jug. But Hercules repells them. He pursues them with his arrows poisoned by the blood of the Hydra and kills them in large quantities. Hence they take refuge with the immortal Chiron, the great master of martial and healing arts, and gather around him to find to find shelter. But Hercules is blind of pugnacity keeps on shooting. Unfortunately, one of his arrows beats through a Centaur´s arm and is stuck in Chiron´s knee. The other Centaurs flee into all directions, while Hercules, under self-accusations, hastens to Chiron and tries to help him. But the poison of the Hydra leaves an incurable wound. It agonizes the immortal Centaur so much that he longs for death. Finally, by virtue of a deal with Zeus and Prometheus, he can die after a long time of suffering. Pholus, who has not been involved in the battle but simply witnessed it, dies by an unfortunate accident, as well. He wonders whether such tiny arrows can kill so huge Centaurs immediately. He steps to a corpse and pulls the projectile out to study it. Unfortunately, it slips from his fingers, gets stuck in his foot and kills him immediately.|
It is the destiny of both Centaurs - and of many other Centaurs, as well - that they are done to death by the poisonous arrows of Hercules. This sheds light on their astrological significance. All other planetary gods are immortal, the Centaurs are not. The specific theme of the Centaurs is, therefore, death, the transformation - the ending of an old life and the beginnig of a new and higher life. The Centaur himself can be understood as a sybol for the hybrid position of human beings between the animal kingdom and the godhead, or between animal impulse and reason. The death of a Centaur then means the release of this tension, the transformation of what is subconscious and impulsive into understandig and consciousness. Hercules is the hero who does the Centaurs to death, half intentionally and half unintentionally. He symbolizes the individuality that strives for consciousness.
When a person is under the influence of a Centaur planet, he or she has to go through a transformation. This is connected with an insight. In the language of mythology or of the dreams both death and cognition are the same. Different Centaur planets give rise to this process in different ways. Of chiron we know that he finds it hard to die, - i.e. to understand, or to quit an old attitude towards life and find a new one. He cannot let go and die but keeps stuck in incurable suffering. This can be seen not only from the myth but from his planetary orbit as well: the extremes of Chiron´s ellipse quite exactly touch the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. His mean solar distance is located about in the middle of these two planets. This shows us, that Chiron can neither easily remain in the old disposition (Saturn) nor be released without more ado, i.e. enter into a transforming cognition (Uranus). If there is a release, it is only after long suffering.
Pholus, on the other hand, swings between Saturn and Neptune, and his average solar distance lies near Uranus. He dies all at once, without lengthy processes, and relatively painless. Afterwards, his situation is completely different. Either he has attained to a new prospect, or he finds himself in a catastrophy. For 1993HA2, the "Pluto key", death comes more violent. He is hit by an unforeseen "death-blow" into the heart, which is accompanied by passionate pain and leaves bitterness and vengefulness behind.
Experiences with natal positions of Pholus
A person with a prominent natal Pholus is in his actions guided by impulses whose motivation he is not really aware of. Actually, he is confronted with energies or parts of his nature that are not incarnated, i.e. that hang over or about him like a cloud (Neptune, the aphelion of Pholus) and urge towards incarnation (Saturn, Pholus´ perihelion) within the material world. In other words: Pholus stands for parts of our nature from which we are still cut off and with which we try to get into contact. The parts in question may be those which cannot be soundly unfolded, or on the other hand a domain where the person intently strives for and with time even reaches great progresses. A combination of Pholus and Mercury, for example, can indicate highest precision and almost magic power of a person´s mercurial abilities, or on the contrary legastheny and dyscalculia.
Pholic impulses are blind in a sense. They press on being realized even if they do not "know", what could be their appropriate place in the actual order of life. On the contrary, they are in conflict with the established conditions. The person in question may feel impelled to actions, motions or gestures that give rise to disastrous life situations. So, Pholus finds himself in a strain between self-destruction and enlargement of his own character by additional energies or horizons of experience. The pholic person walks on the narrow path of great and seemingly easy success, with the risk of catastrophic slips. Whatever happens, afterwarts the person is altered. He has broken with his past, has stripped off an old skin (Greek pholis means "squama" or "skin"), has got over a rocky edge and unexpectedly attained a wonderful tableland, or else is stumbled over it into a precipice.
Instead of blindness, Pholus sometimes gives visionary power. In the myth he is a haruspex, i.e. he reads from the entrails of offered animals. People with Pholus at the IC are often very inspired, sometimes spiritual channels or fortune-tellers or work with the pendulum. But in the myths, the seer is often blind. It is not easy to dream the future and, at the same time, actually realize the present circumstances. More details on the interpretation of Pholus can be found - for those who read German - in our book on Pholus. (s. Bibliography)
Experiences with transits of Pholus
It goes without saying that, besides the study of mythology, astronomy and the effects of Pholus in natal charts, his qualities in transits had to be investigated, too. A new planet must cause distinct experiences when transiting, for example, the natal sun or the ascendent. This is especially true if it belongs to the slow-moving ones and the transit lasts for several months or even years (in case of delay by one or several retrogradations).
Therefore we decided to place Pholus on this kind of probation, too: we collected detailed experience reports of volunteers for all important Pholus transits during their hitherto life. Thereby, we took into account conjunctions, squares and oppositions of transiting Pholus with respect to natal main axes, main planets, Chiron, Pholus himself and the lunar nodes, as well as passages through the Placidian houses. The maximal orb we used was 2°. We listed the periods of pholic influences in their varying lengths in form of a table beginning with the birth and ending at the present time and presented them to the participants. To avoid the danger of influencing them, we gave no hints on the kind of transit or the factors involved. So they groped in the dark, as it were. Only after they had returned us their written experience reports, we commented on their respective transit theme in a personal talk and searched after deeper meanings.
To our surprise, the most transits of Pholus in the lifes of our informants had been accompanied by subjectively important and impressing events and developments. The only exception seemed to be the transits of Pholus over the lunar nodes: people were seldom able to report something. But apart from that, in almost all cases, especially at conjunctions, the participants used to mention distinctly noticeable changes and developments, be it during a house passage or a planetary transit, though they did not know at all what transit was in question. Of course, we investigated whether there were other transits involved, but this turned out to be true only seldom.
While evaluating the reports we could with time sift out the following typical transit qualities of Pholus that used to show up in the lifes of the participants both in disagreeable and agreeable variations:
After all we found that almost all Pholus transits mark more or less important turning-points in life. People often leave behind old things relatively fast and spontaneously, open themselves to unknown new things and therewith grow out of their old self. The way in which this happens with Pholus transits distinctly differs from those of the known planets, as sketched above. So, Pholus is indeed clearly perceptible in transits, and according to our experiences his astrological power is by all means equal to other main planets´ transits. For instance, we recommend to look at the transition of Pholus over the rising or setting points. At those times there was an important turning-point in the lifes of most of the participants of our transit research, though nothing of such kind had been indicated by transits of other main planets. Experiences of similar importance were undergone at passage times of Pholus over MC and IC. (see Note)
The full significance of Pholus can perhaps be imagined best by means of its transit qualities, whereby it is clear that we have discovered only the "top of the iceberg". Who knows, what else will be brought to light about Pholus? An other interesting matter of research would be, for example, its generations effects that are connected with its extreme speed variations and its extraordinarily variable residence times within the different signs of the zodiac. For instance, when at perihelion, Pholus passes cancer or leo within only two years. On the other hand, when at aphelion in capricorn or aquarius, it takes him 23 years to cross a sign (figure 4), i.e. more than ten times longer! Depending on the generation one belongs to, one will experience the opposition in the cycle of Pholus between the 13th and the 76th year of life (figure 5). So there is a Pholus generation that has Pholus passed through half of the house circle by the age of 13. Imagine the same thing for Uranus! What is the meaning of such extreme variations in frequency and speed of transits for the different generations?
Well, the qualities of Pholus are so extraordinary, that there are still a lot of further questions. With our book on Pholus we want to show not only that Pholus is an important new astrological factor but also set a reliable corner-stone for the furthermore investigation of this particular Centaur.
Pholus´ transits over the descendent of the previous East Germany near the end of gemini can be re-examined very well (cf. Taeger´s bilingual Internationales Horoskopelexikon). Because of retrogradation it became exact thrice between October 1989 and May 1990 and coincided with the self-dissolution of the German Democratic Republic and with a new epoch of merging with West Germany. Certainly, in that year there were some more and extraordinarily important transits and mundane constellations, but isn´t it true that the transit of Pholus at the western point of relation describs best the great German turning-point and reunion? Wasn´t it an enormously intense and (pholic-)enthusiastic time, where the (collective) unconscious had a finger in the pie and initiated an irreversible new beginning?
- Robert von Heeren and Dieter Koch, "Pholus. Wandler zwischen Saturn und Neptun", Chiron Verlag Mössingen 1995.
- Dieter Koch, "Neue Planeten", Meridian 2/94.
- Robert von Heeren, "New Discoveries beyond the Orbits of Neptune and Pluto", Mountain Astrologer, January 1996
- Zane Stein, "Chiron´s not alone anymore", in: Welcome to Planet Earth, Leo 94, Vol. 14. No. 2
- Zane Stein, "Hercules Unchained; The New Astronomical Bodies Heracles and Pholus", in: Mountain Astrologer, Feb. 95