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HERACLESReading the myths for each Centaur, one of the things almost all seem to have in common is a connection to Heracles (Hercules.) So it seems only logical to assume that there should be a body in our solar system named after him, doesn't it?
THE DISCOVERYPholus was the second Centaur discovered, Chiron being the first. On Nov. 7, 1992, only months before Pholus was found, an asteroid was discovered at 23 Aries that was given the name Heracles (Hercules). (Since its mythology is interconnected with that of all the Centaurs, the placement of Heracles in a chart may be truly necessary to the complete understanding of these all of these bodies.)
HERACLES' ORBITHeracles is an Apollo-type asteroid, coming very close to Earth. (That in itself is a good reason to study it.) At perihelion...closest to the Sun...it is 0.4166 AU. That means it gets closer to the Sun than the Earth does, even closer than Venus. Its next close approach to the Earth will be on Nov. 28, 2016, when it will be 0.1470 AU away, but it will get much closer in 2039, when it will only be 0.0577 AU from us.
At aphelion...furthest from the Sun....it is 3.2481 AU, which puts it in the vicinity of the asteroid belt.
And during its orbit, it frequently gets very close to Mars....sometimes as close as 0.02221 AU!
As you can see, Heracles has quite an eccentric orbit, even more so than either fairly eccentric Chiron (0.3847424) or the more eccentric Pholus (0.5744593.) Heracles has the eccentricity of 0.772644!
Throughout the 200 years that I have figures for, it spends the majority of its 2.48 year orbit in the signs Aquarius, Pisces, Aries and Taurus, and then goes through the remaining eight signs in less than a year. Sometimes it retrogrades back through as many as four signs before it turns direct. But, amazingly, not once in these 200 years is it retrograde in the signs Cancer through Sagittarius! In other words, in its present orbit, it never goes retrograde throughout one-half of the zodiac.
There are many, many stories about Heracles which may relate to this asteroid. First, let us look at his background.
Zeus (Jupiter) was very attracted to a woman named Alcmene, who was married. So he disguised himself as her husband Amphitryon and was able to seduce Alcmene. It was from this illicit union that Heracles was born. Hera (Juno), Zeus' wife, tried to kill Heracles as an infant, but failed, because the baby killed the very snakes she had sent to do him in. The baby was then abandoned, but Hera was tricked into taking him in and nurturing him, feeding him from her own breast. (She never would have if she had known this was that same baby!) The infant was named Heracles, which means "Hera's Glory". When she found out how she was tricked, and who the baby really was, she was incensed, and did everything she could to make his life miserable.
Hercules is portrayed as larger than life in most areas -- especially his physical strenghth and his sexual appetites. In just one paragraph of Apollodorus, he impregnates 50 sisters! There are many stories where he he totally takes undue advantage of a host's hospitality by ravishing the host's wife or daughter. As you can imagine, he is listed as siring many, MANY children! (At least 60 females he consorted with are specifically described by name.)
ITS MEANING?On the surface, the the focus of Heracles seems to tie in with the signs Aries and Scorpio, the sign of its discovery, and the Sun-sign at that moment. But there is a lot more to this little body than just the signs of Mars. The name Abraham Maslow comes to mind.
Heracles gets closer to the Sun than Venus, and moves out past Mars aiming outward toward Jupiter. So we can consider it as being involved with Venus/Earth/Moon/Mars, and possibly Jupiter as well.
Maslow wrote about a hierarchy of needs....often pictured in pyramid form. The animal or physical needs, such as food, water and warmth, are on the bottom level...and these are the strongest needs. If a person is deprived of these needs long enough, they would most likely die. These are, more than anything else, Lunar needs.
The next level are safety needs. Adults feel these during periods of emergency, or when there are disruptions in the social structure, such as rioting. Children feel them more frequently, often displaying signs of insecurity, feeling afraid that they might die. These are the needs that surface as one begins to step beyond the lunar needs, but still has one foot ready to jump back into the safe and secure.
Then we have love/affection/belonging needs. Strong needs to escape loneliness and alienation, to give and receive love. One can feel as if one is dead if these needs are not met. Venus is very much involved here.
The fourth level are esteem needs....needs for self-respect. You may not die if these needs are not met, but you can feel inferior, weak, helpless or worthless...and may wish you were dead. This Venus and Mars.
The top level is self-actualization. Very few people reach this level, where all their basic needs are met, and a person finds his or her 'calling'. He wrote: "a musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write." This is an integration of Venus/Earth/Moon/Mars, stepping outward toward Jupiter and beyond.
The most important aspect of this pyramid is that, starting from the bottom, each level takes precedence over the one above it. Thus, if you are dying of thirst, you cannot think about your safety needs....all you can think of is 'water'.
When our needs are unmet, especially the most basic ones, each person chooses his own route to try to deal with the situation. Take the fourth level. When a person feels inferior, he or she may try to cover up this feeling with acts of bravado, or striking out at what they feel is the cause of the situation.
Abraham Maslow was very aware of the Venus/Mars interconnection....he was born with those two bodies in close conjunction. (I don't have his time, but his birthdate was April 1, 1908, in Brooklyn, NY.) Using a noon birth puts Venus at 25 Taurus 26 and Mars at 26 Taurus 20. The Sun at 11 Aries 34 is semisquare, and so is Neptune at 12 Cancer 06. Nessus (25 Pisces 01) sextiles Venus/Mars, while Asbolus (27 Leo 45R) squares it.
Heracles (11 Pisces 36) enters the picture by being trine to his Neptune. While not as close, we may consider it also conjunct his Mercury (14 Pisces 25). His thinking was colored by Heracles.
A few other Centaurs in his chart:
Pholus (3 Libra 04R) oppose Saturn (1 Aries 38), sextile a stationary direct Jupiter (3 Leo 34.)
Chariklo (21 Pisces 48) squares Pluto (22 Gemini 53.)
Heracles, as I see it, represents the urge to fulfill the needs represented by Venus/Earth/Moon/Mars, and the urge to reach a point where one can go on to the fifth phase. In the process, we may have to deal with all sorts of blocks to our needs being filled....and have to fight for them, or choose some way to deal with the situation. And once we have filled the first four levels of needs, Maslow says that self-actualizing people are involved in a cause outside of their own skin....devoted, work at something very precious to them, something called a vocation...in the old sense, the priestly sense. Moving from Mars out to Jupiter, and beyond.
Heracles also ties into the way we react negatively when needs have not been met….thrashing about, striking out, calling upon our Mars to attack. Centaurs have been shown (among other things), to be deep wounds...wounds that have been received when needs have been unmet, or blocked. And these wounds can act, over and over again, to stimulate Heracles' behavior....the thrashing, the striking out.
I like to think of Heracles and Chiron as particularly connected. Heracles goes out past Mars, and looks toward Jupiter. Chiron comes in past Saturn, and looks toward Jupiter. Their connection, then, lies in that planet, Jupiter (which Maslow had Stationary Direct.)
In ancient texts, it is written that Chiron said, "Honor Zeus above all else." It is easy to see how his orbit must come in toward Jupiter at the start of each new cycle. Heracles' father, too, was Jupiter, and through his trials and tribulations, good deeds and bad ones, he was heading for the ultimate transformation: promotion from demigod to godhood. It is easy to see how his orbit must reach out toward Jupiter at the culmination of each cycle.
Back in 1997, Saturn turned stationary only 14 minutes away from my first house Heracles. This body only makes one close aspect in my chart, a sextile to Mars. I felt at that time that I had no choice… I had to leave Ohio, home, family, friends, everything, and make a 'heroic' journey across country to seek a new life. At least for me it felt heroic....I had never driven further than 400 miles on one trip in my life, now I was driving over 2500 miles; I would be driving alone through mountains and deserts in a 4-cylinder car with one cylinder completely gone; and I would be heading to a 'promised land', I thought...California. During the trip, I got in touch with a lot of my inner self, including some inner demons (driving through a desert at night, not stopping except for gas because a friend had put a terror of desert snakes into my mind. Hmmm...the first story I ever read about Heracles was him wrestling with snakes which Hera had sent to kill him.)
The chart for that trip, perhaps, would be the chart for my whole stay in California, as well. While there I wrestled with a number of Centaurean issues...one of the first being Nessus. (The person who allowed me to stay in her spare bedroom for my first couple months there was an ex-girlfriend who had left me for another man (after I 'got over' the breakup, we became very good friends.) Her relationship with him had ended terribly...he had brutally assaulted her months before....and she was at first uneasy having ANY man in her house with her. While I was there, she began seeing a new man...and I had to deal with the old hurt coming out when she had this new man over for a weekend.)
There were other Centaurean issues that came to a head while I lived in that state, but I won't go into them here.
When I decided to return to Ohio, I was not the same man. When I made the final arrangements to begin the drive, Saturn was nowhere near my Heracles, but Mars was closely trine my Heracles, and the journey was made without trepidation... it was made with eager excitement....I chose a different route on the way back, and loved every minute of the adventure.
The times when it aspects Chiron and/or Pholus seem to be the most significant for Heracles. (I haven't studied it much with Nessus yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if it, too, was significantly involved with Heracles.) Due to the orbits of Chiron and Pholus, they sometimes are close together for long periods of time without ever making an exact aspect. At such times, Heracles will frequently "translate the light" from one body to the other.
Part of one key to Heracles, and therefore his connection to many of the Centaurs, lies in the idea of poison. Now, a poison may be a chemical substance, but it is not limited to that. A poison is something very destructive; something that can cause injury, illness or death. It can be a thought or an emotion that eats away at one. (i.e. venomous jealousy.) In one myth, when Heracles was overcome by madness, you can see his irrational behavior as the result of a mental poison....caused by Hera's venomous jealousy. With Eurytion and Nessus, it was the poisons of lust, and vengeance. Thus, Heracles can show how we deal with the poisons within us.....and how they may end up harming both ourselves and others, as we allowing them to fester deep within...poisons such as anger and hatred. And it can show where we can hurt others by being too quick to act.
Another issue Heracles has to deal with: the placing of responsibility for one's misdeeds. In a fit of rage induced by Hera, Heracles killed his first wife and children. As you can imagine, when the fever passed, he was in emotional agony. He was able to blame Hera for the fever that came over him. Isn't that one of the major issues of today...can we blame a criminal's parents or upbringing for the crime he commits?
But Heracles was also a courageous hero, so where Heracles falls may show one's courage. This may especially be significant in the way one chooses the heroic path of facing one's imperfections, and confronting the inner poisons one carries.
Chiron and Pholus were both hurt through Heracles' indiscriminate arrows. And Chiron and Pholus both can show the pain that we carry around...the wound that will not heal...until we can forgive the one who inflicted the pain upon us. Nessus died from an arrow too, and went to his death without forgiving.
Finally, Heracles in death was transformed into an Olympian, an equal with the other gods. He and his step-mother were then reconciled. In fact, Hera allowed Hercules to marry the goddess Hebe, daughter of herself and Zeus, known as the gods' cup bearer, pouring and bringing them wine. Hebe herself was worshipped as a goddess of pardons or forgiveness...freed prisoners would hang their chains in the sacred grove of her sanctuary at Phlius. Thus her marriage to Heracles could be seen as the ultimate pardon by Hera.....the ultimate becoming whole.
Perhaps Heracles shows the way toward becoming whole once one has passed through the fire and rid oneself of inner demons and poisons.
Mark Andrew Holmes has done a little exploring on Heracles: markandrewholmes.com/heracles.html
Click here Heracles, to find out how to discover where your Heracles is.