The centaurs of astrology are incredibly interesting part of the astrological maṇḍala; they fall somewhere between animal and human, sometimes guided by noble ideals and other times by destructive primal urges. ‘Centaur' means “those who round-up bulls” and they are known for their wild behaviour, lewdness, and love of wine.
Interestingly, the centaurs are doubly double-bodied, as they are both asteroid and comet as well as half-human, half-horse. Found in the Kuiper belt of asteroids between Jupiter and Pluto, the Centaurs have been named and numbered since 1992.
I really loved what Philip Sedgwick wrote about the Centaurs (from The Astrology Book), so I share it here:
“Given that Centaurs at large contain bulls, they tame the beast (within), control negative urges, and bear a responsibility to the symbolic bull’s eye. This marksmanship returns to the concept of original sin, missing the mark, also denoting distance from God. [...] Many stories about clouds prevail in Centaur mythology. The air again gains significance with these creatures. The scent of wine travelling through the air causes a major Centaur incident, as did words traversing the air. Similarly, myths involving the contamination of water exist. Overall, an environmental impact begins to form in Centaurian symbolism. Can the emphasis of the bull - money, real estate, greed - be tamed? Or will developments, populations, and over-building polish off what’s left of the purity of Earth? [...] What about the concern with sexuality, drinking, drugs, and morality? Can the animal instincts alive in human nature be controlled?"
The centaurs can tell us a lot about where we’ve come from and where we’re headed. I hope you enjoy working with these ancient symbols in your own chart.
Asbolus had a vision about the massacre of the centaurs and tried to warn everyone; no one listened.
Clairvoyance or ’seer', ‘Kassandra’ Syndrome (see asteroid Kassandra), humiliated for being “weird”, peaceful efforts, conflict resolution, wish for a good reputation. Negative associations include: reckless regard for reputation, lack of integrity, impulsiveness.
Seeking or establishing fame, exquisite, ethereal.
Talent, life force, stamina, activity.
From Zac Stein: Strength of will, determination to see something through, integrity, standing for your principles in all circumstances.
Chariklo was the wife of the Centaur, Chiron. Incidentally, she was not actually a centaur - she was a mermaid - but she shows up here nonetheless. Her only story of note is when she intervened on behalf of Teiresias when he was blinded by Pallas Athena; Chariklo begged Pallas to reconsider and eventually she made Teiresias a ‘seer’.
Healing work, rituals, guided meditations, the feminine way, companions, compassion, empathy, fairness.
Chiron was the first centaur discovered and equally the most well-known of the mythical centaurs; arguably Chiron is the most important of all the centaurs. He was the son of Saturn and a sea-nymph. Early on, he is abandoned by his mother (his first ‘wounding’), who is horrified at his half-man, half-human form; he is soon taken to the Sun god Apollo, who teaches Chiron everything he knows about the healing arts. Chiron is later wounded by an arrow from Hercules. The wound never heals despite his healing knowledge, which explains Chiron’s well-known nickname as the “Wounded Healer”.
Chiron’s themes include: the “wounded healer” archetype, learning through suffering, compassion for others’ suffering, resistance to pain, “liminal” reality, pre-birth influences, ancestral influences, exile, healing, transformation.
“Oh woe is me?”, self-victimisation, self-pity, accepting your responsiblity in your fate.
Material wealth, harmony, status, rank, self-worth, artistic abilities and endeavours. Can also be selfish, demanding, greedy or obsessed with their ‘artistic needs’ being met.
Balancing abstract thinking and logic, balanced perspective, ability to be completely one’s self.
“Well-expressed”, self-realization through writing and creative works, those talented in word, speech or artistic expressions. Articulate and precise, but also boastful and verbose.
Hylonome was the wife of the centaur Cyllarus (and one of the rare female centaurs). When she saw her husband killed in battle, she committed suicide in grief by thrusting herself on the same javelin that had impaled him.
Hylonome’s themes include: grief, pain, suicide, poor boundaries in love, inability to separate one’s self from one’s partner.
Nessus acted as the ferryman for Hercules’ wife Deianira (asteroid Dejanaira, if you are interested) when they were fleeing the Underworld. While Hercules swam across, Nessus was overcome with lust and attacked Deianira; Hercules then struck Nessus with a poisoned arrow. And long story short - eventually Nessus killed Hercules from beyond the grave: he had convinced Deianira that his blood and semen would ensure Hercules’ faithfulness to her.
Nessus’ themes are: a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a user and abuser, rape, assault, acts of violence, black magic, STD’s, AIDS, diseases transmitted by blood (hepatitis, for example).
Temperance, balance, making life-altering changes, accepting destiny. Clarity, impeccability and loyalty to personal and emotional needs, praising, complimentary. To be criticized, to brush aside criticism, to be able to listen to oneself.
Good citizenship, initiation, to earn one's keep or not, chopping wood and drawing water both before and after enlightenment; distrust, cynicism, paranoia, disbelief in altruism, manipulation, darkness, the cruelty of reality, waking up to the way things are; a period of extreme popularity, which diminishes over time, but never completely, and becomes the base for future developments.
The name ‘Pholis' means “snake-like” and therefore connects to his role in healing, kundalini and augury. Pholus is generally seen as one of the kinder-hearted centaurs, and his themes include: divination, wisdom, sacred wine (my personal feeling is this includes entheogens like Ayahuasca, San Pedro, etc.), altered states of consciousness (possibly Shamanic states of consciousness?), homeopathy, consulting an oracle, kundalini, reclaiming innocence, transformation.
On the other hand, Pholus died by accidentally picking up a poisoned arrow during the massacre of the Centaurs, so other themes include: mass killings, accidental death, euthanasia, the act of ending in pain or suffering, letting go of an assumed sense of wrongdoing, retreating from attack, avoiding conflict.
Over-attachment to one’s career and career reputation, creating balance between work and relationships, status seeking, mercenary, easily stunned by beauty and glamour. Being accepted and valued by others. “I am what I am because of my career”.