PHOLUS – 22 Aquarius


Pholus and Ixion

22 Aquarius rides high in the heavens this week. Bringing much commotion. I of course have a planet/asteroid/configuration completely conjunct it. As it has been for the last 4 to 5 years with an increasing frequency  as to the why as of yet it has not bee revealed to me.

I have Pholus at 22 Aquarius in my second house. This is what I do know about Pholus…

The outer extremes of Pholus’ path cross the orbits of both Saturn and Neptune. Just as Chiron is considered an astrological key to Saturn and Uranus, so Pholus is a key to Neptune. His average distance from the Sun is a little greater than that of Uranus, a complete revolution takes 92 years. In myth, Pholus guards the centaurs’ vines, the wine from these being the actual cause for the battle between Hercules and the Centaurs. Like Chiron, Pholus becomes embroiled in the battle by chance, and dies due to a tragic coincidence – while curiously inspecting one of Hercules’ poisoned arrows, he is mortally wounded.

According to first astrological observations, Pholus gives unusual ability in a particular area, or unexpected results, due to a gift for experiment. Pholus’ transits over the main axes of a chart, often mark radical and unexpected change, hinted at by his sudden and unexpected death in the myth.

There are a number of Neptunian overtones to this story. The wine, for example. Pholus’ self-sacrifice, in one version. Pholus stepping outside of the safe and secure to investigate the unknown mystery of the arrow. Perhaps these relate to the fact that Pholus orbits between Saturn and Neptune….and links them up in much the same way that Chiron links Saturn and Uranus.

We haven’t had very long to study Pholus, so not much of his astrological nature has been verified. But there does seem to be an element of selflessness in his actions…of involving the self in something to the point of losing the self in the process. Much more study is needed, though.

Centaur Pholus

Pholus and Deianira

In the myth Chiron and 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 beginning of a new and higher life. The Centaur himself can be understood as a symbol 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 understanding 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, afterwards 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:

  • Pholus intensifies the natal factor affected by him in a way that we are impelled to unusual and often thoughtless actions in the domain in question. Frequently one feels a kind of “goaded on” and under a hardly sustainable permanent strain.

  • An underdeveloped facet of the affected part of our personality suddenly appears. On the one hand, this often gives us a spontaneous insight into our deficiencies in the domain concerned. On the other hand, it drives us even more towards a change.

  • The participants often felt a wish of riddance. The old and hitherto sheltering way of life becomes too “limited” and is stripped off without much effort and sometimes even “accidentally” (cf. pholis, squama”. A skinning effect). Some persons characterized this process as an “awakening” of new energies, capabilities and insights, often accompanied by a strong enthusiasm.

  • Pholus seems to launch us again and again into unexpected frontier situations, where we feel demanded too much and eventually exceed the bounds of our possibilities. In these periods of transition from a suddenly lost security (Saturn) we find ourselves helplessly exposed to and confronted with the neu haziness (Neptune). In this situation we run great risk of calamitous misreactions (self-sabotage, accidents; cf. Pholus death in the myth). On the other hand, this “wobbly” state may give rise to a positive new beginning that leads into a richer and intenser life. In both cases there is a tendency, that the subconsciousness determines the “course”.

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 this book on Pholus it shows 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.



Issues of Greek Mythology


There may be something to be gleaned from the Pholus discovery chart, as well. Pholus was 0 Leo 36 R in the 9th, in close quincunx to Mercury (29 Sagittarius 01), Mars (29 Sagittarius 59) and Ceres (0 Capricorn 56) in the 2nd. The quincunx IS an aspect of adjustment, and can be one of sacrifice, even of death & transformation.

Pholus Article from Mountain Astrologer