The Great Attractor

Caption and credit

It may not just be Chiron that makes Sagittarius so intense, unusual and worldly/unworldly. Today's truly strange installment may suggest what does, and suggest why, if Chiron has an affinity to Sagittarius, it's as powerful a planet as it appears to be.

The Earth and Sun are now aligning in the direction of the midpoint of Sagittarius, halfway between Scorpio and Capricorn. Among the many strange marvels of the sign that contains the galactic center is another galactic point called the Great Attractor, located at about Sagittarius 14 degrees and two minutes. As I write, the Sun is at Sagittarius 14 degrees and one minute.

It's probably best if I leave it to astronomers to begin the discussion of what the Great Attractor is, or seems to be, and then move into the astrology.

According to the University of Illinois Cosmos in a Computer web page, "The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies [Andromeda is our nearest galactic neighbor, not counting our own sub-galaxies, or clusters] are the dominant structures in a galaxy cluster called the Local Group which is, in turn, an outlying member of the Virgo supercluster. Andromeda -- about 2.2 million light-years from the Milky Way -- is speeding toward our galaxy at 200,000 miles per hour. This motion can only be accounted for by gravitational attraction, even though the mass that we can observe is not nearly great enough to exert that kind of pull. The only thing that could explain the movement of Andromeda is the gravitational pull of a lot of unseen mass -- perhaps the equivalent of 10 Milky Way-size galaxies -- lying between the two galaxies."

Okay, interesting enough. Some invisible "thing" with the gravitational force of an object with a mass ten times our own galaxy is drawing the Milky Way and Andromeda together, and it's believed that the two galaxies will eventually collide.

But now consider this.

"Furthermore," the authors continue, "our entire Local Group is hurtling toward the center of the Virgo cluster at one million miles per hour. The Virgo cluster lies some 50 million light years from Earth. Only the central region is shown [in the photograph] above, containing two giant elliptical galaxies, M84 and M86. The visible part of the cluster is but a small portion of what seems to be out there. Nevertheless, the Virgo Cluster, along with several other large clusters, are in turn speeding towards a gigantic unseen mass named The Great Attractor."

[For more astronomical information, use these links for a Quicktime movie, or a much smaller sound file (both of the same interview with Jeremiah Ostriker of Princeton University) that describe this phenomenon. This link, to Scientific American's site, tells more of the story, as does this link at Astronomy Picture of the Day.]

How the senses deceive us. We can see nothing there, visibly. But our instruments tell us that everything is moving toward it -- a million galaxies, if you can imagine such a thing -- and that it's emitting a simultaneous broadcast of infrared, ultraviolet, x-ray and gamma ray radiation, among many other frequencies of the spectrum.

"It's demonstrably more like a quasar than black hole," says Philip Sedgwick, the Arizona-based Centaur astrologer and one of the few people who has researched the psychodynamics of the Great Attractor as it shows up in the charts of his clients.

"It doesn't appear to be punching a hole into another dimension, but rather, it allows us to see around things." In other words, its massive gravitational force bends spacetime so profoundly that we can get a view around the back of the universe. "It allows you to see around the bend. It clears the way. It's almost as if you're moving around behind something.

"Nobody knows what it is, or why everything is drawing to it. This thing is prodigious. It's the largest thing that I know of, that they [astronomers] know of. They can't really see anything out there. So what is it? We don't know. The point itself retreats from us, but everything is following it, in hot pursuit."

Sedgwick, a Scorpio, adds, "It is the ultimate Sagittarian statement of leave me alone, don't crowd my space, coming into the most extreme."

People born with the Sun, Moon, ascendant or another important planet close to, or aspecting, this point will often find that they have a polarizing effect on people around them, making unusually close friends and intense enemies as well. They can give the impression that they hold the key to the mystery of the universe, correctly or not.

"The perception is that people on the Great Attractor have unusual appeal or potency. They find themselves in vast circles, accidentally. Or they have impacted masses of people and think they have created no influence in their lives whatsoever," he said.

The current Saturn-Pluto opposition has come within two degrees of this point since late July. "With Pluto having been there, and with Saturn about to finish it off, people with this point prominent in their charts are maturing into a calling, as it were. They are discovering what their calling is," he said.

He added that it's often prominent in the charts of people who feel as if they are in some way alien from the rest of the human race, even literally. Elian Gonzolez, for example, was born Dec. 5 and his Sun is right there. As Pluto went over the degree recently, the house where he lived in Miami was turned into a museum, and in that city he's held with the reverence of the baby Jesus. Mohammed Atta, the pilot who flew Flight 11 into the World Trade Center, was detained in Miami at the same time on immigration charges, and was then released.

"But in addition, these are people who feel alienated and yet they bring in different levels of consciousness, and this is why," Sedgwick said. Among its more noteworthy subjects is Walt Disney. In the astrological community, one of its most prominent spokesmen, Rob Hand, is born with the Sun conjunct this point as well.

If you know your chart, check for planets in the middle degrees of any sign, but principally a fire sign or a mutable sign, to see whether you have a major aspect to the Great Attractor.

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Phil Sedgwick, a truly great teacher, offers a course in galactic astrology on tape, and has his own ephemerides of Centaur planets available. You can email him in care of Planet Waves at Phil did a class at Norwac 2001 on the Great Attractor, which is available from FYI, Rob Hand gave an excellent talk on Sunday night on astrology and magic, available from the same source.

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Space graphics above: Samples of the Center of Centaurus A, courtesy of APOD. Credit: E.J. Schreier (STScI) et al., NASA. Explanation: A fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, gigantic glowing gas clouds, and imposing dark dust lanes surrounds the central region of the active galaxy Centaurus A.

This link written and posted Dec. 5, 2001