a generation lost in space
Even when a planet sweeps through a sign for an entire decade, it's possible to notice certain qualities about the essence of that generation's condition that relate to the planet's position. The idea is not to speak in absolutes, but rather to make observations that are meaningful in terms of our growth and sense of reality, as well as what lives in potential or in reserve within us.
In modern times, generations always look for ways to define themselves, or perhaps it's the other way around: we're a bit obsessed with generational thinking, largely in hindsight. Astrology, being an open-ended and extremely flexible system of interpreting reality, is one of the more sane methods. It's true enough that each generation enters the world at a unique time, faced with its own specific challenges and its own unique planetary picture. Astrology, used well, can add a dimension to the discussion unavailable elsewhere, and often provides what seems to be the missing key.
We can look at Chiron in Pisces and see that process encompasses the dates of the election of John Kennedy and the beginning of Camelot, the optimism of the era, the arrival and rise of the Beatles, Bob Dylan's arrival in New York City and the writing of his brilliant early albums, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the escalation of the Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos war, many civil rights experiences including Freedom Summer, John Kennedy's murder, and those of RFK and Martin Luther King Jr., the Summers of Love, the popularization of LSD, and a lot more than I can say in a paragraph but that gives you an idea. Whatever else may have been going on astrologically -- such as the Uranus/Pluto conjunction across the universe in Virgo -- Chiron in Pisces was witness to, and is a sigil of, one of the most extraordinary periods of history remembered by a living person today.
Bear in mind that astrologers knew not of Chiron during this era; he was retrofitted into charts and astrological thinking after his discovery in 1977.
Planetary transits each have their own way of making pictures of the world, of telling the story of an era, and sometimes it's visible at the time. The current transit of Chiron through Capricorn is a good example; we are seeing the exposure of many wounds, and quite potentially a measure of healing, around the conditions in corporations and in our government, aspects of life that fall in the domain of Capricorn. The stream of highly unusual news stories of this year, including corporate and government scandals and political rearrangement, is a clear picture of Chiron's gift of awareness and his surgical blade entering the dark, sick world of corporate and government power.
And what of the kids born into this experience? Surely we can say that during their formative, impressionable early childhood they were exposed to a culture in which all of these issues were called into focus, and were a constant discussion in the media, whether they were "aware" of it or not. And, by what ever method of synchronicity or cosmic imprinting, they will have some parallels in their individual lives that reflect this placement, though each life is uniquely expressed. But we shall see what they have to say when they say it.
A few other technical notes before I get into the symbolic interpretations, and my observations of Chiron in Pisces from eight years of working with this planet. First, please note that due to retrogrades, there were brief intervals at either end of the above date range when Chiron was in Aquarius (on the early end) or Aries (on the recent end) -- the dates above represent the first ingress into Pisces in March of 1960, and the last egress from Pisces in January 1969, but the process of Chiron in Pisces, in whole, is encompassed by the dates above.
Second, the question of houses. In any natal chart (birth chart), Chiron will land in one or another house, based on the time of day and the geographic location for which the chart is cast. House placements represent the angular relationship between a planet and the Earth's horizon, and speaking practically, the mode of expression of a planetary energy. They are a strictly local and personal affair. The house brings the planet home. The sign placement represents the quality of the energy; the house represents how and where we express it. The sign placement is modified by the house placement, often greatly, and further detailed by what are called aspects or relationships to other planets in the chart.
Remember that through the Chiron in Pisces era, Chiron repeatedly opposed both Uranus and Pluto, so on one level, its influence is difficult to discern from those other placements. During this era, for example, Chiron opposed Pluto 11 times. So the various positions are part of one process. Also, through 1965 and 1966, Saturn conjoined Chiron, adding a fourth energy to the picture. Additionally, the grand opposition (Saturn/Chiron in Pisces opposite Uranus/Pluto in Virgo) was in a continuous trine/sextile to Neptune in Scorpio. All of these placements, together, represent the working out of a much larger process than any one placement taken individually. But how the energies will play out in any given natal chart will vary greatly, in part due to other variables like house placement and the position of the Sun, Moon and inner planets that will emphasize or de-emphasize the expression of the chart configuration.
So, this is the long way around saying that any honest attempt to isolate the specific meaning of Chiron in Pisces for the 1960s generation must integrate the whole planetary picture, which held together for many years. Other writers have looked at previous generations and made observations: for instance, the prior transit of Chiron in Pisces saw the horrors of World War I; the most recent, Vietnam.
And it's now a good time for this comment. An aspect structure involving Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Pluto and Neptune can be summed up in one word: INTENSE. It is, reasonably, about as much as a person can bear. Most charts will emphasize the point -- there are, after all, quite a few fast-movers (Mercury, Mars, Venus, the Moon, the Sun, the Ascendant, the Midheaven, etc.) that can come along and pick up and broadcast all this highly cosmic energy right into the "normal" personality level of, say, for example, Venus: "Honey, let's have dinner." But dinner may involve sitting down with space aliens, disccussing the Dead Sea Scrolls, or experiencing an intensity of mind and spirit that would, frankly, leave our parents gasping for breath and clutching at the door handles of the nearest church or stock brokerage.
So, Pisces Chiron cousins, if you're concerned that the previous generation doesn't really understand you, or is just faking it when they say they do, you're probably correct. And if it turns out that you don't have Chiron in Pisces but you're not one of these nebbishes, your chart or your life is tuned such that the direct experience of spirit is just a normal part of who you are -- and aspects to Chiron, or other planetary arrangements, can signify that.
In Pisces, Chiron calls us toward the numinous, the mystical, the unknown. Barbara Hand Clow described it beautifully as a Siren's voice calling from the ocean, beckoning us nearer to God or cosmic consciousness, but as a direct experience rather than as a theory. Chiron serves mainly to focus awareness, but it always does so through experience. In case you're wondering "what Chiron means," write that on your wall! It is a force as powerful as the Sun, the Moon or Pluto in this regard, but since its energetic mark directly involves consciousness, it can have a strange way of dominating the chart -- if the native of the chart follows the track of experience and tunes into that particular level of energy, in other words, if they are the kind of person who pays attention to what is happening to them and around them. If not, the life may be filled with numerous events with a "chirotic" feeling that the native fails to notice or get the message of, particularly things that seem to repeat. The lessons of Chiron in Pisces, if we may call them that, are distinctly spiritual in nature, involving the life beyond the body, the vast mysteries and the surrender of concrete definitions.
But if concrete definitions are surrendered, then the undefinable takes on an unusual focus. Chiron conveys pure, refined intensity, urgency and even obsession wherever it takes up residence in one's chart. It grants this intensity to Virgo all the time (Mercury doesn't go far enough to explain the passion and drive of Virgo), but when placed in Pisces, it can bestow a mental alertness to issues for which there are rarely words spoken, and even an ability to grasp notions with the mind that are generally not easily translated into concept. The questing spirit of Sagittarius and the focus of Virgo are turned loose in a region of energy where all the colors bleed into one, to paraphrase U2. We might call Chiron in Pisces the quest for the unknowable.
Remember that when we talk about Chiron, we're talking about an astrological process, experience or archetype that is associated with the Centaur, the half-man, half-horse of Greek mythology. It is a divinely human expression of the duality of our nature, and serves to remind us that we must straddle many contradictions to be alive: animal/human; human/divine; soul/personality; mortal/immortal; male/female; wounded/empowered; struggling/ecstatic; love/fear. With Chiron in Pisces, the powerfully mental and Earth-bound energy of Virgo is invested in the indescribable realm of Pisces; and the questing spirit of Sagittarius, the arrow of the Centaur's bow that points straight to the objective of the soul, is placed in the watery, flowing experience of the12th sign. It is close-to-perfect picture of humanity dropped into the middle of vast creation.
Remember that both Chiron and Pisces are highly dualistic: the image of Pisces is those two fish, attached and swimming in opposite directions. Some look right at that and see yin-yang. Chiron raises this paradox or universal law to the height of consciousness. Thus with Chiron in Pisces we may have the feeling that dualism is blown way out of control, that we are split in half and cannot find the meeting point; or that it's somehow mysteriously resolved within us. More likely, in true dualistic fashion, we will alternate back and forth, all of which gyration, tossing and tumbling keeps the mind and soul keenly alert to matters of spiritual equilibrium and deep introspection. If not, it could drive one to drink.
People with Chiron in Pisces may, therefore, possess an innate spirituality that differs vividly from those born with Chiron in either of the two adjoining signs, Aquarius and Aries. The qualities of the Pisces placement are most clearly seen with the help of this contrast. There seems to be an irritation or built-in discomfort to Chiron in Aquarius because the natives often have a difficult time grounding spiritual energy. They don't lack spiritual awareness; to the contrary, it is often overwhelming, and difficult to hold steady, to put to work or use, and it seems to nag rather than call. In Aquarius, Chiron acts more Uranian than it does Saturnian. (Chiron will act more or less like Uranus or Saturn, depending on its sign placement and to a lesser extent on aspects.) By contrast, those with Chiron in Pisces seem to have a deep comfort with spiritual issues and subject matter, to the point of being able to take them for granted. Chiron in Pisces understands that death is part of life, that the all is contained in the one, and that there are some things for which no words exist.
With Chiron in the next sign, Aries, the spiritual quest is experienced distinctly as a "search for self" and the themes of I and Me and My Role are emphasized. The spiritual quest, for Chiron in Aries, is usually expressed as an identity crisis, and the 70s were indeed known as the Me Generation. This is a fine way to evolve, since we have come to our green world to work on the process of individuation. But by contrast, Chiron in Pisces people find it much easier to take a collective view, to surrender to the larger picture, and to forget themselves. Spiritual is spiritual, that's good enough. This can exaggerate all the Piscean themes of martyrdom, long-suffering and sacrifice, which are easy enough to stumble into with Chiron no matter what sign it's in. But with the Pisces placement, there is, at the least, always the memory, faint or strong, that this struggle is somehow meaningful, and not just in the context of the individual spiritual process.
There is another side to this. It is also possible to feel Chiron in Pisces as an existential wound, as having been abandoned by God or creation. If this is so, then the person is likely to work, struggle and push life to the limits to reestablish this connection, and even if not, it's likely that the course of events over the lifetime will slowly awaken awareness of the connection that exists beneath the sense of lack or loss.
Jeff Green, one of the first writers to bring out a serious book on Pluto, made a few observations about Pluto that fit this discussion of Chiron. First, he noted that Pluto seems to represent some kind of past life concentration of energy, like a little hub of karma; second, it has what he called a polarity point that takes the past life emphasis and works it into a present-life mode of expression. So for instance, when Pluto is in Virgo, there can be an obsessive tendency to collect information and work with media; the polarity point, existing in Pisces for the Pluto in Virgo generation, suggests that this really needs to be done for the greater good, not just for its own sake. He describes Pluto as an unconscious process; we make it conscious and real in the opposite sign and house from where Pluto appears.
Through the Sixties, Chiron was continuously at the polarity point of Pluto. This is a very appropriate picture; at best, Chiron functions this way no matter where it is, as the expression of conscious evolutionary intent in the current incarnation. It is where we can express our mastery now, such as in healing gifts or a talent that we've probably worked a long time to develop; or, in the alternate, it is where we can become hung-up in our own process of repeat wounding.
At the recent Norwac conference, I asked Jeff if he had been considering the fact that Chiron was at the polarity point of Pluto in many of the charts he had been reading. No, he said, he didn't even look at Chiron. But he emphasized his observation that any planet opposite Pluto in the natal chart is already functioning before the native is born, hence, the implication that it represents a past life attribute brought into this lifetime. We can be sure that the Chiron in Pisces generation has a lot more to offer the world than it is currently doing.
Chiron in Pisces is calling us to make peace with all the great mysteries of life: God, death, passion, Eros, altered states of consciousness, and the origin of the human experience. Individuals with Chiron in Pisces can express an innate knowledge of these mysteries, which can be developed into healing gifts or creative talents if the native chooses. It's worth mentioning that Pisces is the sign associated with illusion, theater, film, art and music. Other signs speak of the creative aspects in different manifestations; Pisces speaks to the waving of illusion, and a gift for doing this both artfully and with integrity.
Chiron in Pisces lent what we might call the spiritual quality to the Sixties. Virgo lends intensity, dedication to service, an intellectual awareness. But Chiron's effects in Pisces were felt in the psychedelic art and music movements, the emphasis on world peace, and the use of drugs for the "higher purpose" of inner investigation and spiritual seeking. Even among those not using drugs, mystical themes were part of the background of life. These were subjects that were taken quite seriously at the time, proffered by people like Ram Dass and Tim Leary. And, as suggested in the chart for their first American performance of the Beatles (Feb. 15, 1964), they were pulling in a strongly Chiron/Piscean energy; we can think of their work as the living expression of Chiron in Pisces, setting the tone for what would otherwise have been an era dominated exclusively by pain, turmoil and hopelessness. The Beatles, more than most people realize, set a sound track to the era that lent core philosophical guidance, and pushed a jet stream of positive energy, into life in that phase of history. They influenced every musician of their era in history like no one before them.
The Beatles made us feel, and still do, that the human experience is one experience. And what we can observe about them is that there are some people who are very good at taking up the astrology of the moment they are alive and creating and beaming it into awareness. Most people, it's fair to say, spend most of their time in their natal astrology rather than living the highest truth of the current sky.
Melanie Reinhart has written the most comprehensive and serious book about Chiron, called Chiron and the Healing Journey. In it, she describes the Chiron in Pisces experience: "forms disintegrate, the past is dissolved and our separateness s is relinquished so that a new and more inclusive cycle of life can begin, hopefully accompanied by the wisdom of the previous cycle." She says that the Chiron in Pisces imagination may be strikingly vivid, especially when young. A sense of guilt may accompany the developing sense of individuality. And we may need to give up on our compulsive need to redeem others. N'er were spake truer words. ++