Living with the Outer Planets Prominent
We live in extraordinary times. I call them outerplanetary times, marked by the discovery in 1977 of a new outer planet, Chiron. Chiron is trans-Saturnian. It orbits, acts like, and has an impact equivalent to any other outer planet.
Chiron’s discovery heralded a helping hand for human consciousness. (Hand is what the “chir” in Chiron means.) As Barbara Hand Clow declared in her book title, Chiron is the Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets. In its orbit between Saturn and Uranus, Chiron signifies transitions and the process of evolution, both as individuals and as a collective. (The rainbow refers to the seven colors of our invisible energy centers or chakras. Evolution at the personal level takes place in the etheric body, as the kundalini rises, causing amplification of energy. As we grow, we literally get a “tune Up.” We vibrate on a higher frequency, ultimately, on the same wavelength with All That Is.)
Chiron’s transitional role is marked further by a common thread in its mythology and astronomy. For years, astronomers could not classify Chiron as either a small planet (asteroid or planetoid) or as a comet. Chiron has characteristics of both, like the mythical centaur (half man and half horse) after which it was named. For awhile, some of us used the composite term cometoid, until the American Astronomical Union came up with a new classification called centaurs in Chiron’s honor. To astound us even further, astronomers have discovered that Chiron is the first of perhaps thousands of similar centaurs beyond Neptune, heretofore unknown to us, hence, the need for a whole new class of planetary objects. Clearly, Chiron is the precursor of what’s even beyond our current grasp and astronomical knowledge. Chiron is giving us a glimmer of deeper space, literally and metaphorically, in terms of our own capacity for inner growth and evolution.
For ages, prophets like Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce prophesied that the cusp of the Third Millennium would be a major turning-point. If the outer planets are traditionally linked with major cultural shifts, then understanding the planets beyond Saturn has never been more important. Chiron was discovered, and we became aware of it, when the time was ripe for us to see the personal influence of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto–how they will change us at a cellular level to become, quite literally, a new species. This is why I call Chiron the harbinger of homo improvement. The improvement called for is for us to parallel Chiron’s composite nature–to merge our intellect and instincts, which Chiron’s human and horse halves respectively symbolize.
Saturn has a heavy energy, and, therefore, represents dense substances, like the Earth and the physical body. If Chiron is the Bridge to the Beyond and its discovery heralds our readiness for change, the Neptune/Uranus conjunctions of recent years further signaled the time for a quantum leap in conscious-ness, as the Earthbound cross the Bridge to new dimensions.
While Neptune and Uranus were in Capricorn, we were preparing for this change of consciousness in our institutions and day-to-day reality. When the Saturn/Pluto square overlapped during this period, added to Chiron’s decade-long dance of opposition with Saturn, this brought all the trans-Saturnian planets into some form of dialogue with Saturn, Capricorn, or Scorpio. Symbolically, structural transfiguration was being set up on a grand scale. When everything familiar is yanked out from underneath us (the economy, the American dream, the family as we’ve known it, old encrusted forms of government, the patriarchal health care system), at long last new paradigms have room to move in. Now the energy has shifted–Uranus is in its home sign of Aquarius and Pluto in Sagittarius. Expect to see the changes the Saturn/Capricorn groundbreaking and the Pluto square Saturn groundshaking were preparing at the reconstruction site. (The metaphors of excavation and demolition teams are only too real, remembering the Oklahoma City bombing, when Pluto stationed before its retrograde dip back into Scorpio.)
As individuals, we may have tense aspects to any one of the outer planets that make their meanings very personal to us, but being an “outerplanetary person” means much more than that to me. It means that through our individual struggles and victories with these archetypes, we experience microcosmically (usually just one step ahead of everyone else) what’s coming in the macrocosm of changes in awareness. I call this “channeling the outer planets.”
I finally realized “why I am the way I am” and the source of my own complexity the day I got the implications of having a close square between each of the outer planets and my Big Three: Pluto square Ascendant; Neptune square Moon; and Uranus square Sun. Add to this newcomer Chiron’s sextile to my Moon and opposition to Ceres, both by less than a degree, and Chiron square Pluto (forming with Ceres a T-square focal to Pluto). In astrological circles, I am hardly alone with this type of contact with “outer space.” More likely than not, if you are reading this article, you have intimate natal chart contacts with these planets. We are what I call outerplanetary people. We channel change.
Not long after my own epiphany about the outer planets, I heard a woman with Uranus conjunct Ascendant say that the outer planets were personal to her. She couldn’t understand the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars until she studied Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. This makes sense, for people with these planets prominent are the ambassadors for the collective to these exotic places. (They go where others do not tread.) They are the ones who directly experience and take Chiron, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto personally. They are not only in constant change (and therefore are unlike their “normal” change-resistant counterparts); they are also messengers, running ahead to get information. People with strong outerplanetary emphasis bring news from the fringe, back to the rest of the people. They also hold out their hand to others as they cross from Old to New (over the deep abyss of the Unknown). It’s not an easy job (it’s lonely out-front), but someone has to do it. The good news for outerplanetary types: Our time has come and our life’s purpose is to act now on the knowledge we have gained by constantly interacting with tomorrow. (If we do, we will literally change the world.)
My sense of humor revolves around word play, so for years, I have been unable to resist calling myself and others who share a powerful and close relationship with the outer planets PUN people (Plutonian, Uranian, and Neptunian). Add Chiron and we’re PUNCs with a purpose. (Consider how Saturnine elders often scoff at “young punks” with their far-out ideas, and the PUNC pun is perfect.) Of course, evolutionary conscious-ness can happen for anyone who is one outer planet prominent, but my observation is that the PUNCs–people with close aspects to them all–are even hanging off the edge out on a limb and have the strong accent on, and assignment to, catalyze change. Any close aspect to Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto could mean a tendency to sense the tide of the times. I am sure that trines, sextiles, and minor aspects “count,” but the tension of squares, the awareness (like it or not) of oppositions, and the sometimes overwhelming power of a conjunction between the inner planets and the outers tend to produce the most extreme cases.
What’s it like to live on the edge when the whole world’s on edge (and on the brink of change)? Just what are we precursor types to homo improvement supposed to be doing to ease these transitional times (and offer that helping hand)?
The Job at Hand
Sorry, you can’t just sit there silently. You have been groomed to:
Share what you have learned from these outer planetary forces. If you think you’re a little shook up these days with life’s uncertainties and crackpots on every corner, imagine how those poor folks in the middle of the bell curve of consciousness feel (probably clueless.) I’ve heard it said of myself and other PUNC types that we are light workers, as in enlightenment. Our work is to tell all, and what we are to tell people is: how to become whole (Chiron ) and free (Uranus) through networking, sharing information, and breaking out of the bonds of the encrusted Establish-ment; how to be compassionate/One (Neptune); while cleansing and transforming (Pluto) down to the core of ourselves and our Earth.
For myself, the message of the outers has been: Get it or die, evolve or be destroyed. That sounds pretty dismal at first (like Luke Skywalker meeting the mega-Plutonian Emperor that Struck Back), but in retrospect, it has actually been an incredibly gratifying process to be forced to grow by these powers. After more than four decades on the planet, constant irritation by the PUNC planets has led me down a long path to a place where, now, I am finally beginning to reap the rewards of being astrologically unusual. This pain for gain feels somewhat akin to how oysters give birth to pearls. Hopefully, you will find some gems in these ideas. (Perhaps they will comfort me, too, when I reread them during a phase when the more negative aspects of the outerplanetary archetypes rear their ugly heads, and I temporarily forget everything I know.)
The Best of the Outer Planets: What We Can Learn and Share About Them
Since Chiron, by its astronomical position, is a bridge between the inner and outer planets, let’s start on the Bridge–and come back to it later, in the concluding article in this series–full circle. As I share what I’ve learned from channeling the outer planets, I will focus on what I’ve found to be their most positive expression, while contrasting the pluses to the pitfalls (which most of us know only too well).
Chiron – Mentor, Wounded Healer, and a New Astrology
Most people are stuck in the “wounded healer” dimension of the Chiron myth–as stuck as Chiron was by the wound itself. We forget that Chiron had a big job he continued to perform and take seriously, even after, and in spite of, his lingering wound. Chiron was a great astrologer who mentored countless heroes, among them Jason, Hercules, and Aesclepius. His students included some of the strongest, most talented, and most altruistic human beings in Greek mythology. We can reasonably assume that Chiron knew how to accomplish the formidable task of turning his “young punks” into heroes (most of them came to him as adolescents) by casting the charts of his young charges and crafting the equivalent of individual development plans. As a mentor, Chiron is known for his well-rounded education–everything from the martial arts and warrior training to the fine arts, including music. (He mesmerized others by playing the kithara, an early lyre that is the predecessor to the guitar.)  In the gamut between the more Martian and Venusian pursuits (clearly encompassing the full range of what we consider yin and yang or masculine and feminine), the right “dose” of teaching had to match the talents and interests of each wound-be hero. The right blend of training was customized to round them out as individuals.
One implication to us as human beings and astrologers is that we are to mentor the hero, within ourselves and others. Heroism is not a selfish role, although heroes obviously become heroes doing what they love. I define hero: Someone who acts unselfishly from his or her Higher Self in urgent circumstances. Today, everything is urgent. Time is running out to heal our ecological crisis. The New American Heritage Dictionary defines mentor as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. Our job is to bring out the best in people. Here are some examples of how to do it (and how not to do it):
Positive Chiron: Gives to the collective (helps others) despite his or her own pain. Through vulnerability and willingness to serve despite “lingering wounds,” the Chironic individual demonstrates, by example, that healing comes first from acknowledging pain and offering up to the community both the suffering, and the learning that comes from it. This is one meaning of Chiron’s offer, in the myth, to trade places with Prometheus, who represents Uranus or the collective. Without being egocentric or an emotional exhibitionist, the most positive expression of Chiron is to openly admit to being “a work in progress” and to help others on their own quest for self-fulfillment. They say the best teachers are just a few steps ahead of their students in their learning. Positive Chiron represents the epitome of this nonhierarchical way of helping others. In her book, Chiron and the Healing Journey, Melanie Reinhart conveys the concept that a shaman is not a really a shaman unless the community accepts that s/he has gone to the underworld and survived.  Unless a Chironic type (the modern-day version of a tribal shaman archetype) can overtly convey to others having “been there,” he or she will not be well-accepted as a healer. Chironic astrologers recognize this healing, process-oriented, eye-to-eye, mentoring style of helping others.
Positive Chironic astrologers see that astrology is simply a head-trip unless intuition and practical application is part of their practice. Chart reading must be customized and in the moment with the real person behind the chart. The Chironic astrologer not only empowers, s/he offers tools and teachings, so that in any of life’s emergencies, the skills to handle them have been fostered. Last but not least, this breed of astrologer is not puffed up, thinks of him- or herself as a midwife more than an authority (a position which slips so easily into know-it-all), and knows s/he is as much a learner as a teacher in a privileged position—sharing another’s intimate struggles with being successfully human.
Negative Chiron. Gail Fairfield does a wonderful job of describing the flip side of Chiron in her book, Choice Centered Astrology.  She says Chiron as likes to fix things (and people), and negative Chiron fixes things (and people) that aren’t really broken. (Our need to fix-it is so strong, we create dramas or dilemmas to keep ourselves in business.) Negative Chiron applies Band-Aids® or administers major surgery, often without permission and/or welcome. (If you are a positive Chiron type now, you can probably remember a time in your life when it felt like your phone number was 911.)
Negative Chiron also stays stuck in woundedness and “woe is me” to the point of near nausea to those around him or her. Chiron teaches us to go on despite our pain, to keep working (presumably, on healing it), and ultimately, to realize that a certain modicum of pain goes with the territory of bringing our spirits into a body. To be human is to run the full gamut of experience that Chiron drew from in mentoring his students. We have to expect a little pain mixed in with the pleasure here. It takes all the heroism and guts we can muster to deal with the emotional trauma of bringing that spirit into this dense dimension. Imagine the loss of freedom (to float around, for one thing) and why freeing Prometheus (Uranus) Bound is a key part of the Chiron story. Chiron is relieved from his immortality (gets to die) only after this altruistic act, implying that as long as we are here, we must serve humanity and expect that some pain is the price of a place where we can grow so fully. (If you can be spiritual on Earth, you can be in great spirits anywhere.) We can learn to release pain–a glorious goal–but to eliminate it completely is incongruous with being human, which is to feel. (Feeling badly is the appropriate reaction to many things that happen here on Earth, especially lately.)
There is another important cue for spotting a negative use of Chiron is the anti-hero. This is the person who can assemble a rag-tag group of misfits and put them up to no good, like the militia movement or other anti-social “heroes.” (Both Timothy McVeigh, accused in the Oklahoma City bombing, and David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidians, had prominent Chirons.)
On balance, the greatest thing we can hope to achieve as astrologers is to give our clients a different perspective on their lives (a Chironic key phrase) and to help them learn how to express and clear feelings rather then suppress them, since the latter leads to disempowerment. When we can’t do something, when we are the most immobilized, we say, “I don’t feel like it.” Doing it, whatever “it” is, doesn’t feel good. Often, the blockage is from old feelings never released that the current event activates—our Chironic wound. Unless we learn the technique of releasing emotions and emotional blockages, we are as stuck as Chiron was by that arrow and just as helpless, short of dying, to do anything about it.
– by Joyce Mason
Next: Part II, Outerplanetary (Extraordinary) People: Uranians Fire Up the Brotherhood Network. (This article is the first of a five-part series)
 O’Brien, Dale, The Myth of Chiron, audiotape, recorded at The Mountain Astrologer’s Planet Camp (1991), Contact: Dale O’Brien, 1817 Grove Rd., Atlanta, GA 30308.
 Reinhart, Melanie, Chiron and the Healing Journey, Arakana (1989), p. 17.
 Fairfield, Gail, Choice Centered Astrology (Smithville, IN: Ramp Creek Press, 1990), p. 209