Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nessus: Wounded Eros

In addition to the traditional planets, the discipline of astrology takes note of many other planetary bodies, including asteroids and centaurs—the latter of which are named for the half-horse, half-human creatures of mythology. As planetary bodies, the centaurs move in long, dis-orderly orbits around the sun. Wikipedia describes how “many [within] the astrological community approach [the centaurs] with less dignity than the celestial bodies now considered planets,” then adds that “many astrologers believe the centaurs are of major astrological significance, recognizing one or more as rulers of Zodiac signs” (; March 1, 2009).

I grant the centaurs much significance, and I respect their profound teachings on human nature. Nessus is the third discovered centaur and is associated with intergenerational wounds, karma, and sexual abuse. It has been described thusly: “Nessus represents primitive, unrestrained energy which can destroy without thinking and thus is destroyed by the same energy it seeks to dominate. This asteroid is also implicated in ancestral sin or the violation of one family member by another... Often the problems implicating Nessus are generational in span and duration” (; March 1, 2009).

Eric Francis writes that “Nessus is a Centaur planet that assists with identifying and healing of abuse patterns. But on another level, it reveals the complex interplay of causes and effects; of stated motives, underlying motives and of outcomes. While it can address cycles of karma, the most poignant key concept comes from Melanie Reinhart: the buck stops here, indicating that it in some situations it speaks to the conclusion of the karmic cycle involved: the truth revealed, the perpetrator caught, the situation resolved, responsibility taken” (; March 1, 2009).

We can learn something also from the mythology of which Nessus gains its name. As one version of this myth has it, Nessus was killed by Hercules when Hercules discovered him about to rape his wife. And, as if the rape and his own death weren’t dark enough, in an act of betrayal toward Heracules’ wife, Nessus then kills Hercules-- after his own death!-- with his poisoned blood.

We see themes of rape, betrayal, damage after death (and therefore between generations), domination, and love. At the time of its discovery Nessus was in the sign of Scorpio, a sign associated with the deeply psychological, dark, taboo, and sexual aspects of life. Scorpio, in turn, is associated with the 8th house of astrology, which carries these Scorpion themes as well as that of contracts, agreements, and the use of others’ resources for one’s own gain. Nessus may have something to do with the ways in which the energy of one person is extorted and violated by another—and I believe it’s the fundamental energy of Eros that we’re talking about here. In fact, Nessus was square Eros at the time of its discovery (the square being an uncomfortable aspect between two energies that are related in ways that require a “working through”).

Reflecting on this mythology, the centaur’s discovery-location within Scorpio and square Eros, and its place within natal charts, I have come to wonder about Nessus as an expression of the way Eros has been wounded, diminished, and even raped—in our world and in our individual lives. Sexual abuse is the most obvious way in which this wounding can happen. But we are talking about life energy; and forms of psychological abuse, neglect, as well as the simple task of growing into a world where certain aspects of human nature are disallowed can also lead to a wounding, or disruption, of Eros. It should come as no surprise that this energy is wounded within our culture. And I even wonder if it may be human nature, regardless of culture, that Eros is disturbed in some way.

In other words, Nessus may represent the specific form of the challenge to Eros, which each of us suffers—a challenge to that energy that speaks of love, vitality, and our place in the Unity that sources our world.

For those who practice astrology, the location of Nessus in your chart (see below) may point to the ways in which Eros has been diminished for you, within your lifetime and/or across generations. It may help you to ponder the following questions: What gets in the way of my vitality? Where has my energy been diminished? Or what is left out within my way of relating to the world? To others? To myself? Nessus in Gemini might indicate a split between mind and body that diminishes Eros. Nessus in Taurus might point to a wounding of one’s feminine connection with matter (presenting as an eating disorder) or a heavy connection with matter and the things of the world, manifesting as depression felt deep within the body. Of course, the house it is located in and its aspects will also reveal something of the nature of what I am conceptualizing as a wound to Eros. And we do not need to know astrology to ask such questions.

As is always the case, our wounds also hold within them the potential to transform, grow, and in this case, reconnect with Eros--- with that life forces that animates life and makes it worth living. As Francis indicates, quoting Reinhart, it is about the cycle of abuse, diminishment, or wound to Eros stopping. And the way to do this is with awareness. It is in this way that Nessus points us in the direction of the shadows in need of light, and through that, toward what we need to heal from a legacy of diminished love.


Anonymous said...

I just discovered that I have Sun conjunct Nessus in Cancer in the 8th house...trine my 12th house Scorpio Moon and Uranus.

I noticed that my partner has Nessus in Gemini exactly conjunct my 7th house Mars and Descendant.

He reminds me of my father...
There are trigger points around sex, hidden psychological abuse, etc. - almost like my father was supported in his abuse of me. I haven't visited my family in 5 years and it feels like freedom. Whenever I show the slightest bit of care of emotions for something around my father, he uses it to psychologically abuse me. It's more than a touch sadistic. He "gets off" on seeing me in emotional pain.

My lover "gets off" on bringing me pleasure and healing my pain through kind words (Gemini) and physical touch (Mars).

So I Googled Nessus. Thank you for this article.

maggie said...

i loved this article ... joy of joys for the deep understanding of this "myth"and for sharing it ...just so beautiful ..
to me the tranist of .nessus trine venus almost exact is IT!! it is over the buck finally does stop her ....thank your such a great article so well written as to be positively loaded with goodies , if we just take the time to read slowly and ....imbibe !!

Fallen Angel said...

I'm curious about Nessus in my tenth house of Leo conjunct my sun moon midpoint. Relationships seem to limit me, with a north node in the 7th conjunct vertex opposing Mars conjunct Pluto in my first house of Scorpio. Sun in 3rd house of Sagittarius moon in 6th house of Aries.

Nessus seems to take me to places in relationships. Betrayal, learning to end codependency, becoming aware of my ego and attempting to balance a sharp tongue, mind, and body.

I'm too much for many people and not enough when it comes to standing on my own.

Like trying to run up a steep hill on loose gravel.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I've been seeing a lot of fear based Nessus articles and I'm grateful that you've written about it in a thorough way that reveals it' lighter side. I was noticing that a lot of me and my best friends have Nessus conjunct the ascendant in our composite. These relationships are not abusive. There is however a common theme of healing Eros and empowering eachother together.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this insighitful article.I have Nessus at 16,30 degrees conjunct my north node and Jupiter Retrograde in the 4th house in piscies. I also have Pluto and ixion in this house. Pluto is also trine Saturn. I am kind of new to astrology and these aspects really scare me. I have heard alot of talk about Nessus bringing abuse in one;s life, and conjunct my north node it's even scaryer. cand anyone tell me what all this means?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these ponderings! Deeper and more nuanced than many, I think. A question: What would you say about Nessus Nessus opposite Nessus? Plus: Man,Eros/Woman,Nessus in conjunction. And,Man opposite Woman, Cupido...? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting…I have a composite overlay with someone I love dearly, who’s eros exact conjuncts my south node. In synastry his nessus squares my nodes and visa versa. Also neptune. We are both deeply loving people but our relating is/was a rollarcoasterride of mirroring eachothers deepest core wounds surrounding love/self-love and childhood wounds. That can feel ugly by times. With a lot of self-awareness and the will to grow towards the best versions of ourselves it is a bond that is hard to break. We will always support eachother on our healing journey though.