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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Chiron-Pluto conjunction, by Liz Greene


Apollon, January 2001

If Liz Greene's writing were edible, this article, on the current Sagittarian ferment, would taste like pickle; a sharp sauerkraut, or an edgy borscht with sour cream - for this is the flavour of the Chiron-Pluto conjunction. An acquired taste, perhaps, repellent to some, but rich, nutritious soulfood for those who are digging in and are here to stay.

For those of us who are inveterate planetary cycle-watchers, the limelight was stolen for much of this year by the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction - with which we may associate not only recent stock market wobbles, but also the pervasive sense of an old era ending and a new one beginning. There has been a lot of anxiety about. Much of our millennium hysteria, crystallising in prophecies of the end of the world and rampant overstocking of tinned food and toilet paper, was energised not only by the solar eclipse in August 1999, but also by the gradual approach of this great cyclical conjunction which made its exact aspect at the end of May 2000. In ancient and medieval astrology, the conjoining of Jupiter and Saturn signifies the death of the old king and the birth of a new one; and in many arenas we are continuing to observe the gradual ending of old value systems and outworn structures, especially in political and economic spheres.
However, there is another major planetary conjunction which has been within orb for over a year, largely ignored by astrologers: perhaps subtler in terms of related worldly events, but equally relevant to our "state of mind" and, more importantly, our "state of spirit", as a collective and as individuals. This is the cyclical conjunction of Pluto and Chiron, which is presently occurring in Sagittarius. Chiron entered Sagittarius in January 1999. It dipped back into Scorpio during July, August and September, and re-entered Sagittarius in October. It made its only exact conjunction with Pluto in the last days of December, 1999. Although these two planets made no more exact conjunctions, they remained within orb of conjunction throughout 2000, and will not part until February 2001. Their interaction will have lasted for a full two years.
As astrologers, we tend to look first at worldly events to make some sense of major planetary aspects in the heavens. But this may not be the only, nor even the most helpful, way in which we may grasp the deeper meaning of such aspects and what they have to offer us. We can certainly get insights from events; but events are difficult to define. When, for example, does a marriage end? When the two people divorce, or when the relationship dies on the emotional level? These two "events", one concrete and the other emotional, may occur years apart. Or we may look at five different automobile accidents in which the driver has died, and say that they are the same "event". But the first occurred due to drunken driving, the second occurred because the driver was speeding, the third occurred because a flat tyre threw the car out of control, the fourth occurred because of another driver's idiocy, and the fifth occurred because the driver had a heart attack at the wheel. These apparently identical events are deeply different in cause and meaning. Or we may say, "When Saturn and Uranus formed a conjunction in Taurus and Gemini during the 20th century, World War II occurred." But wars have always occurred, with or without Saturn-Uranus conjunctions. What matters is the nature of a particular war, its "motives" and "purpose", its effects on the people involved, and, ultimately, the archetypal background which infuses that particular conflict.
Transiting planetary aspects do not describe events. Events describe aspects. These aspects in turn reflect archetypal patterns which might or might not manifest as events, in part depending on the choices of all those who are receptive to, or identified with, the pattern. Transits such as Jupiter-Saturn or Chiron-Pluto reflect something "inner", something which is activated in the psychic life of the collective as it unfolds and reaches critical junctures and transformative stages. These transits are inside us. For the first part of 2000, we all discovered a little of how it feels to have a natal Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Taurus; and we are continuing to discover how it feels to have a natal Chiron-Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius. We all share in the responsibility of dealing with these planetary movements as creatively as possible. How we feel, what we experience, and how we ourselves enact and embody these transits, knowingly or unknowingly, is as relevant as what "happens" in the world outside. We are not the victims or pawns of planetary movements; we are, each of us, creative participants in the shaping of the future course of events.
Although able to freely offer that piece of good advice, I of course disregarded it myself when first observing this important planetary aspect, and initially I tried to see if I could identify any worldly events with what I understood to be the meaning or flavour of the Chiron-Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius. This is, in the main, a fruitless exercise, for we see what we want to see. But Chiron's peculiar relationship with the suffering of the "outsider" seemed clearly enacted when, on a trip to London at the end of April 1999, I arrived just in time to hear about the Soho pub bomb, a little piece of atrocity targeting the London gay community, killing a number of people and injuring a great many more. This was the third in a series of bomb attacks which took place within a two-week time span, the first targeting blacks and the second the Bangladeshi community, organised by one psychopath determined to terrorise "minority" groups in the city. Terrorist bombs are an everyday occurrence these days. But these attacks had a different flavour from most. They were not political in nature, but revealed that most frightening and dangerous of human propensities: the fanatical intolerance and destructiveness which arise when we project the despised and feared "outsider" in ourselves on others around us, and see them as a threat to our survival. George  Harrison
In December 1999, when the conjunction was exact, I waited to see what might appear in the papers over the next few days. Lo and behold: the stabbing of the George Harrison, the "quiet Beatle", occurred on 30th December 1999. What, I wondered, could this event possibly mean in terms of the collective psyche? Harrison was always the least obtrusive of the Beatles. He lives a private, introverted life, as befits his Pisces Sun, Scorpio Ascendant, and Scorpio Moon. Did this strange event mean anything at all, except to George himself? It did smack of scapegoating: there was George innocently minding his own business, and horror intruded from the world outside. In George's progressed chart, the Ascendant had moved from 2º 23' Scorpio to 9º 14' Sagittarius, with the transiting conjunction (Chiron at 11º 13', Pluto at 11º 20') sitting close to this progressed Ascendant and within a degree of orb of opposition to progressed Saturn. This suggested that George was inadvertently serving as a kind of lightning conductor for the energies of the Chiron-Pluto zeitgeist, and would be likely to meet, in his immediate environment, an embodiment of the meaning of the conjunction. On 31st December, the day after the attempted murder, The Sunday Times produced the following headline, and another noseful of Chiron-Pluto's distinctive odour wafted by on the breeze:


George Harrison, 25 February 1943, 00.05 local time, Liverpool (1)

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George Harrison Secondary Progression at time of attack

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George Harrison attacked, 30 December 1999, Henley-on-Thames

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The components of the conjunction
Pluto reflects the instinctive survival mechanism of the collective, and of nature itself. It is impersonal and ruthless, as nature herself is; one extinct species, one dead animal, is as nothing in the overall sweep of the evolution of organic life. When we are threatened with extinction, physical or psychological, we discover that we have Pluto in our chart. That which wishes to survive must destroy or transform what is life-threatening or no longer viable, internally and externally; and the process of cleansing of dangerously outworn and useless survival mechanisms, regenerating new survival mechanisms, is reflected by Pluto's 246-year transit through the zodiacal signs. Our Pluto generation - the age group born with Pluto in a particular sign - shares fundamental ways of defending itself in the face of what we perceive as a survival threat. Pluto moving through each astrological sign describes the changing spheres and ways in which the collective weeds out those elements which threaten its survival. None of us will live to see a complete Pluto cycle; we are part of something larger, in which our individual lives and deaths are embedded. Therefore we have to take it on trust.
Since Pluto entered Sagittarius, we have been forced to confront what threatens our physical and psychological survival in the spheres of morality, religious beliefs, spiritual aspirations, law, our concepts of right and wrong, and our definitions of the "highest good". So far, we have run the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime: from the pantomime of Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment of the US President to whether we intervene in the bloodshed in Kosovo or Sierra Leone, and whether the death penalty is any kind of solution at all to the problem of human destructiveness. We have been told by the Vatican in no uncertain terms that consulting an astrologer or a psychoanalyst constitutes a sin as serious as contraception. We are being faced with a barrage of moral questions which are not as simple to answer as they might once have seemed. Behind these moral questions are deeper spiritual questions: What God do we, as a collective and as individuals, believe in? Do we believe in anything at all any longer? Slowly but inexorably, Pluto reveals to us our dangerous religious blindness, our naivety, our infantile belief in the "goodness" of authority and the moral rightness of the legal and spiritual systems we have created, and our desperate allegiance to political and spiritual gurus who promise quick fixes and an over-the-counter antidote to the condition of being human. Pluto in Sagittarius also raises issues of the foreigner and what is foreign, forcing us to recognise that, for some, survival depends on crossing the borders - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual - to find a new life, while for others, survival depends on keeping the borders closed.
Chiron, pursuing its erratic orbit between Saturn and Uranus, stands at the interface between the individual and the collective. We suffer as individuals, not only because of personal conflicts, but also because we are part of the human species, and our human collective is inevitably torn between the animal and the divine. We make terrible mistakes through our emotional and instinctual compulsions, and equally through our intellectual arrogance; yet we need to understand why we suffer, and are forever seeking ways of healing our wounds. Chiron describes the compassionate impulse to pursue and offer wisdom, and to heal ourselves and others - not from a Neptunian vision of oneness, but because we all, somewhere, experience a sense of irrevocable wounding or damage through factors over which we have had no control. Our urge to heal the world's pain is always, sooner or later, doomed to disappointment, because humans are what they are and life is always unfair; and there are some things we cannot fix. Yet we persist in trying. The myth of Chiron describes a wise teacher and healer who is caught in the cross-fire of a battle between Herakles, the solar hero, and the wild and savage centaurs. Chiron is good and wise, yet he is injured and suffers - perhaps because he is good and wise, and understands both sides, and thus will not join the battle. The archetypal struggle between light and darkness, through which, over aeons, we gradually civilise ourselves, inevitably breeds casualties, reminding us that our aspirations can only be fulfilled within mortal human limits.
The 50-year cycle of Chiron through the signs describes those changing spheres in which we experience our greatest wounding, disillusionment, and bitterness, through encounters with destructive impulses in ourselves and in the collective about which we can do nothing, and where we may feel blameless and scapegoated. Our Chiron generation group describes those ways in which we experience ourselves as injured irrevocably - rendered permanently alien and "outside" - and where we are most likely to experience disillusionment and bitterness. This is also the arena where - if we remain unconscious - we are likely to project what is most injured in ourselves. It also describes those spheres where our questioning, born of suffering, can lead us to deepen and mature in our beliefs and convictions, and can open our hearts in compassion for all creatures which suffer through the condition of being mortal. While Chiron transits through Sagittarius, we are, as a collective, compelled to experience disillusionment and loss of faith as we are faced with our moral errors and hypocrisies, our spiritual gullibility, our misjudgements and prejudices, and our impossible hope that life will always be fair and the good guys on white horses will always win.
Where Chiron is concerned, healing seems to involve relinquishing any claim to immortality or divine power. When he is wounded, the mythic Chiron retires to his cave in agony and begs for death, which is granted to him; thus he descends from an immortal to a mortal form, and is freed from his suffering. This myth suggests that Chiron's healing is not about "fixing" things, but about relinquishing the fantasy that we are godlike and capable of changing everything. The acceptance of mortality is also the acceptance of human limits, and the recognition of our vulnerability. We all partake not only of heroic solar aspirations, but also of the savage centaurs' destructiveness; and in Chiron's world, no amount of self-purification can purge us of our humanness or heal the wounds of our disappointed ideals. Only an acceptance of imperfection and unfairness, in ourselves and in life, can allow us to forgive and make peace with those things we cannot alter or redeem. It may be that the passage of Chiron through Sagittarius is presently reflecting a profound impetus for us to mature, in terms of both our God-image and the ways in which we define good and evil.

Chiron-Pluto on the individual level
Because we are still in the middle of this conjunction, it is hard to get a clear perspective on it in global terms. When I began to work on this article, I had no idea what I would find in the way of historical parallels for earlier Chiron-Pluto conjunctions, and I had no collection of facts with which to "prove" any preconceived hypothesis. I do have experience of many clients, however, who, born under the last conjunction of Chiron and Pluto in 1941, and also under the long opposition between them during the 1960's, seem to carry or have carried -- at some point in their lives - a very particular sense of alienation and scapegoating, of rage against life, of feeling at the mercy of collective forces they cannot cope with. Deep mistrust and bitterness are sometimes characteristic of both the conjunction and the opposition, but often this cannot not be linked with specific childhood issues. Also, the bitterness may be unconscious, like an unhealed abscess, drawing hurtful situations which seem to come from "outside". Chiron and Pluto together form a coalition which, if unconscious, believes that offence is the best defence in the face of a survival threat, and that life is an unsafe place in which the weak, the "different ones" who do not belong, are wounded and victimised, and only the powerful survive. I have found that healing, for many born with these aspects, seems to begin first with recognising the bitterness, and accepting that some of the mistrust is valid and true, given our sorry human history. This may involve relinquishing a false spirituality which masks considerable anguish underneath; and it may also require facing one's own savagery and complicity, often unconsciously enacted. Opening this secret wound can help the individual to discover, through real experience, that, despite life's unfairness, individuals and collectives can also be motivated by good will and compassion; and this kind of realism can help the individual to make peace with the past.
Those with planets in the first two decanates of the mutable signs have been experiencing the Chiron-Pluto conjunction very powerfully. When this conjunction makes hard aspects to personal planets, the individual is challenged and awakened, in the sphere of the natal planet, through painful memories, re-enactments of past suffering, and a recognition of the darker elements in human nature. External events such as losses and separations are possible; illness is also possible; but more common are inner events such as depression, a sense of failure, and a feeling that the past is repeating itself and one is trapped in something which cannot be changed. Confrontation with the inevitable may initially fill the person with feelings of impotence, powerlessness, and victimisation. The effects of such experiences, because the transiting conjunction is in Sagittarius, make a profound impact on the individual's world-view, spiritual convictions, definitions of "right" behaviour, and trust in the future. I believe the potential this transiting conjunction brings to natal planets is to mature them, making them deeper, subtler, and wiser, and bringing about an acceptance of life's limits which allows a greater possibility of joy and compassion because one's expectations are no longer impossibly high. Through one's personal experiences of pain, one joins the human race. This transit reflects childhood's end, and challenges our innate narcissism. We may experience sadness, grief, and mourning for what is irrevocably lost: on a personal level, and in the spheres of hope, faith, religious beliefs, spiritual aspirations, and trust in legal and religious institutions and systems of knowledge. Pluto in Sagittarius precipitates serious rethinking and re-evaluation in these spheres. But the presence of Chiron here teaches us that some things cannot be fixed, and that our determination to survive may blind us to the ways in which we injure others as well as ourselves.

The peculiarities of the Chiron-Pluto cycle
Certain oddities occur in this planetary conjunction cycle which do not occur in the cycles of other pairs of planets. The conjunctions of Chiron and Pluto occur roughly 60 years apart. But due to their elliptical orbits, the conjunctions only seem to occur in four signs of the zodiac: early Sagittarius, early Gemini, early Leo, and late Pisces. Our present Sagittarian conjunction echoes the previous Sagittarius conjunction in 1752-1753; the Leo conjunction in 1941-42 repeated the earlier Leo conjunction of 1697; the conjunction in Gemini in 1881-1885 repeated the earlier one of 1642-43s; and the 1818-1821 conjunction at the end of Pisces repeated the 1579-82 conjunction. What this pattern might mean in terms of the evolution of the collective baffles me; but it is a very succinct pattern, as though we only experience the challenge, suffering, and potential healing of the Chiron-Pluto conjunction through very particular spheres of experience. We cannot assume that events of a clear and unambiguous kind, easily attached to the meaning of the two planets, will occur under every conjunction. In fact, we have to admit that, contrary to popular expectation, nothing especially enormous "happened" at the dawn of the millennium, except irrational exuberance on the Nasdaq, some very exciting parties, and a general sense of disappointment because the world did not actually end. Yet we are facing particular moral and spiritual challenges at the moment which are affecting individuals and collectives very powerfully.

The 20th century conjunction cycle
Historical research can, however, sometimes give us glimpses, if not answers. A brief exploration of the previous conjunction of Chiron and Pluto might be useful at this point. Chiron entered Leo in October 1940. It joined Pluto for an exact conjunction in July 1941, in 4º Leo. Although they made only one exact conjunction, they were within orb of conjunction, initially out-of-sign, through the second half of 1940, and continued within orb through the summer of 1942. During the closest phase of this conjunction, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, and Hitler invaded Russia, resulting in the debacle of Stalingrad and the loss of millions of German and Russian lives. The Chiron-Pluto conjunction landed exactly on Hitler's natal MC at 4º Leo, and widely conjuncted his Saturn in the 10th house - perhaps reflecting an activation of the Leonine archetype of imperial grandeur and domination and the divine right of kings as a mode of survival, but with dark roots that fed on long-forgotten grievances harking back to ancient Teutonic/Slavic conflicts of the past. The mythology of a superior race destined to rule the world perhaps also belongs to this Leonine archetype, and was, it should be remembered, adopted by many people in many nations during the time of the conjunction. This was a universal Zeitgeist, and not merely the creation of one mad Austrian with a funny moustache; and the sound of marching jackboots could be heard in America and Britain as well as in the streets of Berlin. Sir Oswald Moseley and George Lincoln Rockwell were not German exports. They were home-grown. Transiting conjunctions of outer planets reflect something happening in the collective psyche, which means that they happen within each of us. Until we understand this, we will continue to seek answers to life's barbarity in isolated individuals who, although we deem them evil, could never wield such psychological power over so many unless they were mouthpieces for some spirit of the time moving in the depths within all of us.
When Chiron and Pluto meet, an ancient survival mechanism is activated, sometimes quite savagely, rooted in memories of ancestral wounds. Also, perhaps most importantly, the theme of the scapegoat - peculiarly connected with Chiron - is invoked. This was played out, under the exact conjunction in 1941, in the setting up by the Nazis of the first extermination camps, and the beginning of the systematic murder of "outsiders" - Jews, gypsies, Slavs, and homosexuals - throughout Russia and Poland. Hitler also invaded Yugoslavia under this Chiron-Pluto conjunction, on 6th April 1941, with, according to recent reports, the encouragement and support of Pope Pius XII. This is a sad and horrific judgement on the leader of a great religious institution, only revealed - with awful aptness - during the present conjunction of Chiron-Pluto in Sagittarius. And under the same aegis, in August 1941, Slobodan Milosevich was born, with the Moon conjunct Pluto conjunct Chiron in the 4th house. When, later in this particular Chiron-Pluto cycle, Chiron moved into Leo in 1992-93 and formed the incoming square to Pluto in Scorpio, Milosevich began his policy of "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia. The themes of the Chiron-Pluto conjunction of 1941 have continued to reverberate over the 60 years between that conjunction and the present one, revealing to us what we are capable of when our wounds become survival issues and feed on a centuries-old past; and also pointing toward a potential change in consciousness that might allow forgiveness and a letting go of the past.
The first square of the 1941 cycle occurred with Chiron in Scorpio and Pluto in Leo. They were in exact square only once, in November 1947, in 14º. The opposition between Pluto and Chiron occurred between Chiron in Pisces and Pluto in Virgo. This opposition lasted for a long time. Chiron entered Pisces in April 1960. The two planets made eight exact oppositions between July 1961, in 6º, and November 1965, in 18º. Uranus was also involved in this configuration in its later phases, and Saturn was likewise involved in the last two oppositions as it transited through mid-Pisces. Many people are born with these double oppositions. It is a generation group signature of a particularly powerful kind. The oppositions coincided with the height of social unrest during the 1960's, with Kennedy's assassination, with student riots and "flower power", and also with the outbreak of the Vietnam War. The disruptions of the 1960's are usually blamed on Uranus conjunct Pluto. Yet the elements of bitterness and disillusionment, present at the very beginning, are, to my mind, characteristic of Chiron's involvement. This was a time when the scapegoats, the "outsiders", rose in rebellion against what they experienced as life-threatening power structures, in politics, society, and religious institutions. Many born under this opposition feel victimised, or carry immense bitterness at life's unfairness, and battle against oppression, sometimes violently, on a deep, instinctive survival level; and they have few illusions about the good intentions of others. Many of them also feel impelled to change the world, to cleanse the wounds, to heal the bitterness. It is perhaps worth noting that Princess Diana was born under the first exact opposition of Chiron in Pisces and Pluto in Virgo, in July 1961.
The final square of the 1941 Chiron-Pluto cycle took place with Chiron in Leo and Pluto in Scorpio. They were exactly square for the first time in 22/23º during November/December 1992, and they were exactly square for the second and last time in 23º in July 1993. It was during this period that the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana broke down; this was only one surface sign of a general sense of pain and disillusionment around issues of sexual fidelity and loyalty, sexual promiscuity and the transmission of AIDS. With Chiron again in the sign connected with the divine right of kings, disillusionment with all those Leonine emblems in the outer world was perhaps inevitable, and enacted, on one small stage, by the British royal family.

The Chiron-Pluto conjunction of the late 19th century
It is worth briefly mentioning the Chiron-Pluto conjunction at the end of the 19th century, although it is long ago and we have less personal associations with it than we do with the 1941 conjunction. Yet it, too, echoes the themes of collective suffering and a powerful survival instinct unleashed through the finding of a scapegoat - this time justified by "scientific knowledge". This conjunction occurred in the early 1880's, at the beginning of Gemini - directly opposite our present Chiron-Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius. During this period, colonial expansion of the European powers (especially in Africa) was at its peak; perhaps it is dreadfully fitting that now, under the present Chiron-Pluto in Sagittarius, we are observing the inevitable backlash, as scapegoat becomes scapegoater in places such as Zimbabwe. Also rampant during the Gemini conjunction was the promulgation of the concept of "inferior" races; indeed, the scramble for the raw wealth of Africa was justified on this basis. Pseudo-scientific doctrines issued by the University of Vienna, and subsequently spreading across Europe, proclaimed that some races were innately inferior, which included not only the Jews, but also the Swiss - for it was believed that the inability to speak correct and properly pronounced High German indicated a congenital failing signifying racial inferiority. This insidious doctrine eventually worked its way into Nazi propaganda, and is still believed by many. Yet also during this time, major discoveries were made in medicine: Koch discovered the TB bacillus, Pasteur developed preventive immunisation for anthrax and then successfully innoculated against rabies. The colonial expansion and accompanying assumption that the white man had to bring enlightenment to the "heathen" inferior races, and the doctrines of racial superiority, encapsulate the destructive expression of this Chiron-Pluto in Gemini, which equated survival with scientific knowledge utilised against the "outsider". The scientific discoveries of this time encapsulate the healing potential of the conjunction: disease, itself an "outsider", can only be fought if it is recognised and understood.

The millennium conjunction
With Chiron-Pluto now in Sagittarius, one of the archetypal themes which has been activated is fear of the foreign (xenophobia, toward both people and "outside" influences). Our compassionate impulse to welcome the outcast stranger is polarised with our fear of the potential destruction wrought by those who do not respect our own values and social structures. An immense influx of wanderers is polarised with a rising xenophobic spirit. Sagittarius is a dual sign, and is often self-contradictory in its morality; it is both the originator of the "Do as I say but not as I do" ethos, and the quickest of all the signs to perceive and decry such hypocrisy in others. This is why the Monica Lewinsky episode was so hilarious - even, eventually, to Americans themselves. To illustrate the strangeness of this Sagittarian dichotomy, I would like to quote a man who had the Sun conjunct Jupiter in Sagittarius: Heinrich Himmler, who said, "We must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of our own blood, and to nobody else. What happens to a Russian, to a Czech, does not interest me in the slightest." The thorny issue of immigration is presently heating to boiling point in the collective psyche, and clearly linked with the Chiron-Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius; and realistic fears are inflamed in otherwise reasonably inclined individuals by ancient memories of invasion and the destruction, and transformation, of culture and society by the "outsider".
We are painfully polarised, both outside and within ourselves. This ancient fear has erupted notwithstanding the demographic evidence of population drops in all the European countries, including Catholic Italy; despite this, there is resistance against making up the numbers with those of foreign origins. Political correctness is part of this strange constellation, an attempt to present an unprejudiced stance; but it is frequently sadly ineffectual, often grossly hypocritical, and tends to constellate its opposite. Humans are wounding other humans badly at the moment; we are confused and bewildered when we find ourselves capable of blind hatred and prejudice, and equally confused and bewildered when we discover that our compassion and generosity may be coldly and ruthlessly exploited. Political leaders such as Jörg Haider (who, born on 26 January 1950, has Chiron in 18º Sagittarius in close trine to Pluto in 17º Leo) use emotional methods to achieve power, playing on our ancient atavistic fears, and many decry such tactics; yet we would not respond so powerfully, pro or con, if we did not experience, somewhere within, ancient terrors being aroused. Beyond the economic and social issues lies a much deeper issue: What is the right thing to do? How deeply do we believe our own religious tenets? Gullibility and cynicism vie within us, depriving us of clarity of thought and action, and undermining our confidence in our own decency.
Under Chiron-Pluto, our dark collective secrets can no longer be kept; they burst like boils for all the world to see. Scandals in the political arena are forcing us to rethink our values. Films like Erin Brockovich present us with the issue of the individual's power or lack of power to challenge the destructive irresponsibility of large companies and institutions, yet also reveal that, even if we succeed, we cannot heal what has already been irrevocably destroyed. And where, in the midst of our stone-throwing, is our own collusion? Compensation money will not raise the dead, nor eradicate the horrors of the past, nor address the roots of the dilemma; we have yet to discover this in the midst of our new-found fervour to take our misery to the law courts and barter it for cash. Communication, now global and instantaneous, may be used as a means, not only of revelation of the truth and a release of ancient suffering, but also of inflammation of ancient grievances: the transformation of the scapegoat into the scapegoater. We know, from a psychological perspective, that the perpetrators of crimes against "outsiders" usually experience themselves as painfully, irrevocably, incurably "outside". Do we police the internet to root out "hate" groups, or do we honour our belief that freedom of speech is one of the fundaments of a democratic society? Do we pillory a nation which has democratically elected an extreme right-wing leader, while condoning the equally repellent excesses of the extreme left? The exposé of the collusion of Pope Pius XII and Hitler comes, appropriately for Chiron-Pluto, at the moment when the present Pope has seen fit to offer his version of an apology for the Church's past wrongs. It should come as no surprise that many individuals question the sincerity of such apologies, and the moral integrity of the edifice which has offered them; and, once again, we are thrown back into the painful questioning and disillusionment which accompany this Chiron-Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius. And, finally, our pain seems to be making us question, rather than merely blindly exterminating.
What is important for us, as individuals, is the ways in which these factors operate within each of us. We all have our struggles with that which is foreign, and we may identify either with the foreigner or the native, the scapegoat or the scapegoater. We need to avoid projecting this struggle outside, and deal with its implications inside. Otherwise we simply wind up signing extremist petitions against immigration, or petitions against right-wing extremists, without having learned anything at all about where extremes can lead. Chiron-Pluto raises ancient hurts which make us polarise in a highly emotive way, because we remember, in our blood and bones, the centuries-old wounds which cannot be redressed.
Milosevich, as I have pointed out, was born under the conjunction in Leo; he acted out its most devastating dimension by perpetrating on others the savagery he and his people had experienced themselves. Yet many people born under this conjunction see all too well the destructive potentials inherent in nursing past grievances, and they commit themselves deeply to the path of healing and teaching. This is the positive face of Chiron-Pluto. Yet the enlightened healer may himself or herself also suffer, or be victimised by forces beyond any individual's control. The good guys may also be casualties in any war, inner or outer. Chiron-Pluto gives us the opportunity to see our own evil as a collective, to peer deep into the poison of our ancient wounds, and to find a new perspective which can allow us to make peace with the flawed nature of our human inheritance. Forgiveness and humility are essential for this conjunction, and we badly need it now; without these qualities, at least in some small degree, we polarise and find ourselves acting out the savagery in big or little ways, without consciousness and without moral reflection. We may well feel bitterness about the unfairness or corruptness of the law, or of our politicians, or of our religious institutions. We may be furiously frustrated by the fruitless pursuit of Serbian war criminals, or the endless trials of garden-variety thugs who walk free because a lawyer's cleverness has proved more powerful than the blatant truth. We may sometimes abandon hope for Palestine, for Kosovo, for Northern Ireland, for Rwanda, for Chechnya, for Zimbabwe, for Sierra Leone. We are likely to be disappointed in all of these things because even our best efforts will give us only compromises, not solutions, and the dead will not rise again. Yet we have to find a way to live with these things, and keep our faith in whatever we define as the highest good.
Even astrologers often do not want to look at these issues; they come up uninvited, personally and collectively, when Pluto and Chiron are in aspect, and they are then forced upon us. In "New Age" circles, such themes are often not spoken of, because they are deemed "negative" and "unspiritual". We are thinking now more than we did in 1941, and perhaps more than in 1883 when we assumed our racial superiority. We have, perhaps, a little more consciousness at present than we did during earlier Pluto-Chiron conjunctions. The wanderer, the scapegoat, the wounded healer, the healing wound; these are Chiron's themes. Survival, fight to the death, the end of that which has outlived its usefulness, the cleansing of the past, the desperate need for a new world-view: these are Pluto's themes. This is not a cheerful conjunction, yet it could free us from so much, in our personal lives and as a collective. The myth of Chiron concerns his final acceptance of death, because he can no longer bear his pain as an immortal. Perhaps, under this conjunction, we need to relinquish our infantile dreams of immortality, of being looked after by a divine, caring State, or by believing that, in our personal lives as well as in the world outside, goodness is always immediately recognisable and rewarded, and evil punished. Healing, for Chiron-Pluto, comes with a mysterious blend of hard realism and profound compassion: accepting the world as it is, while avoiding bitterness, passive resignation, and the stance of the victim. This, I believe, is the deepest meaning of the Chiron-Pluto conjunction and what it is presently offering us. lotos

George Harrison died on Thursday, 29. November 2001 at Los Angeles, 13.30 local time

1 There is, admittedly, a lot of confusion about George Harrison's birth time. According to Taeger's Internationales Horoskope Lexikon, Harrison was born on 25 February 1943 at 00.05 local time (23.05 GMT on the 24th) in Liverpool. Taeger classes this data as Group 2P, which means fairly reliable because it is an autobiographical statement. This is the chart data I have used above. However, according to Frank C. Clifford in British Entertainers: The Astrological Profiles (Flare Publications, London, 1997), Harrison, in an interview with Tashi Grady in Billboard, stated that his astrologer had rectified his chart to 23.52 local time or 22.52 GMT, giving him an Ascendant of 0º Scorpio. The progressed Ascendant for this birth time would be 7º Sagittarius, although the Pluto-Chiron conjunction would still have been opposite his progressed Saturn.

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