by Boots Hart, CAP

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ixion's station/retrograde: The Depths into Which We Cast Ourselves

 The Fall of Ixion
by Cornelius van Haerlem

Facets of the story of Ixion bear a great resemblance to stories we know from other places. For instance, in the whole mélange of tales Greek, he’s the first to purposefully shed kindred blood, rather a la Cain and Abel.

Except in the case of Ixion it was his father-in-law. And the problem? That was about Ixion (who was king of his own realm at the time) not wanting to honor his “word of honor” to the dad-in-law. So he killed him.

A simple way to end the problem, if not a very gracious or respectable one, to be sure.

Tossed out of the kingdom on his royal keester by a the local populace (proving that early Greeks not only believed in absolute monarchies but their ability to absolutely banish the monarch) Ixion survived for a goodly number of years wandering in destitute lands – again, a familiar story device used throughout mortal (and immortal) history to define a period when we are forced to rely on, and face ourselves in a rather bleak way.

But Ixion’s story is a unique one in that as soon as he gets the Big Time Pardon and thus another chance (courtesy of Jupiter/Zeus, Olympian honcho supreme), Ixion not only goes astray yet again, but does it under the roof of his pardoner by attempting to take Hera, wife of Jupiter, to bed.

(And yes maybe beyond, though none of the myths mention this, suggesting Ixion wasn't aiming at opening a US retail chain.)

Being a Greek god and therefore all powerful but only reasonably omnipotent and definitely fallible, Zeus had suspected Ixion just might do the naughty-naughty and had squirreled the real Hera away, ordering a particularly voluptuous cloud to act as stand-in.

Although....considering how rocky the marriage of Zeus(Jupiter) and Hera marriage was, one wonders why he bothered.

Except it does tell us something about Zeus that the couple carried on...and hence, about the astrological meaning of our giant red Jupiter: if Zeus is going to break his own rules (limits), he’s going to do it knowingly.

 Zeus seducing Olympia
by Giulio Romano (1526-1534)

And whenever caught in the act, Zeus does fess up - which is a nice little comment on Jupiter as ruler of Sagittarius (the trial of law and hence honesty) and primary ruler of Pisces, sign of emotional honesty with self, if no one else.

Every once in a while Zeus even tells Hera that he's sorry. But considering Zeus is a 'creator god' by nature, it's hard to think he'd give up going around creating more beings. He's all about pushing the boundaries as Jupiter, and as is our astrological Jupiter.

Again, an interesting comment on Sagittarius, which has come to be the land of codified spiritual thought (i.e., the "rules" of being spiritual, aka religion) and emotional spirituality (Pisces) which ranges from fantasy to disillusionment replete with everything between. Life is nothing if not an emotional adventure!

As for Zeus, he had never promised Hera fidelity to begin with (never mind a rose garden). Besides, when left on her own Hera wasn't exactly virginal.

But I digress.

For having committed murder of kin and betrayal of immortal trust, Ixion finally rather literally burns in a hellish state: tethered to a whirling wheel which burns with unquenchable fire he is sentenced to go  through time immemorial tormented by fire, disoriented by the wheel (unable to get his bearings) and doomed to recite ‘I will be grateful to my benefactors!’ 

Not a pretty fate, no.

 Perhaps one of the precursors to our concept of 'the wheel of
fortune,' Ixion is ultimately sentenced to Tartarus (the Greek
version of Hell) where he is consigned to be forever tortured
while strapped to a 'burning wheel'
(from a private collection, print dates to 1731)

Looking at this story as a whole, there are – as there always are in astrological mythos – both pluses and minuses in the mix. There is, after all, something to be said for Ixion’s assertiveness and ability to endure and adapt to new circumstances.

What’s missing is a moral compass and sense of personal boundaries…which is something to contemplate, considering we all have an Ixion somewhere in our chart. And considering that Ixion’s great failings have everything to do with his inability to own responsibility for Self, one of the things we could guess right away is that the faster and more automatic our tendency to disclaim, deny, play down or disown bad (read: horrific) results, the more the danger that we may be embodying some of Ixion’s less lovable qualities.

A little more light on this subject comes from understanding that the astronomical Ixion orbits waaaaaay out there yandrow in the Kuiper Belt. You know, beyond Neptune, last true planet in the solar system.

At least currently. You may have heard a commentary out of the NASA quadrant not too long ago about the possibility of some giant (like Jupiter-giant) object lurking on the outer edges of our solar system. And if so, Neptune is not the last true planet. But let’s be real about this…recalling that an ‘au’ (Astronomical Unit) is the mean/averaged distance between the Sun and home sweet planet Earth, Mars orbits at between 1.6 and 1.3 au’s – and look how long it takes to get a spacecraft from here to Mars!

Jupiter? Jupiter and Saturn are both still pretty close in – 4.9 to 5.4 au’s for Jupiter and 9 to 10.1 au’s for Saturn. And it took Cassini what, three years to reach Saturn?

Now let’s talk Neptune. Neptune’s orbit is 29.7 au’s at its closest and 30.4 at its farthest.

And beyond Neptune lies the Kuiper Belt. The farthest object we talk about currently out there in that K-Belt is Sedna. Sedna’s orbit is…well, pretty ridiculous. At it’s closest it’s 76.1 au’s away. And at it’s farthest it’s 975.56 au’s....way, way, way the heck out there!

So now they’re saying there’s something beyond Sedna?
Okay…maybe. But in the meantime, there’s a whole lot of Kuiper space beyond Neptune and this side of Sedna.

And what’s interesting – and pertinent to this discussion furthermore (surprise!) is that Neptune’s enormous magnetic resonance controls the orbits of a bunch of objects out there. You know, like Pluto. Like Huya.

Like – (yes,) Ixion.

I always feel like this is a recitation of Goldilocks, y’know…? Huya can be very, very good. Ixion can be about the very, very bad. And Pluto is sort of what you make of it. Providing you can keep your cotton-pickin’ mitts off the Need to Control Everything button, Pluto can be a pretty darn good thing.

But Ixion?

While this isn't the easiest of all diagrams to decipher, the
right angle at the center represents the location of the Sun and
inner solar system. The red line represents the orbit of Pluto
and the green circle represents the orbit of Ixion. The orbits of
both these astronomical objects (Pluto being a Dwarf Planet) are
controlled by Neptune - a fascinating feat to consider being
that Neptune orbits in the 29-30 AU range (from the Sun) and both
Pluto and Ixion's orbits take them as far out as 49 AU.

That Neptune exerts such a 'controlling effect' on so much space
through resonant magnetism is astrologically very much on point
considering how emotionally driven human beings really are
and that Pluto and Ixion speak to emotional vulnerabilities of self
and the penalties we pay for not dealing with them effectively.
diagram credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech 

Ixion relates to our conceptual theory of Neptune (and thus the Goldilocks dynamic) by being a superbly negative end of the Neptunian command thou shalt not dwell in ego! Standard Neptune Rule #1 (coined as far as I know by astrologer Robert Hand) is that where Neptune is concerned, we must allow ourselves not to know. 

And Standard Neptune Rule #2? That one says the thing you are most certain is, like as not isn’t. That which you think least likely is the thing which is most probably true. 

Put them together and that’s the recipe for the antithesis of ego.

But Ixion embodies duplicity - particularly that of Self. Where Hybris is the thing we consciously think we can 'get away with,' Ixion is more problematic in that there's a deep-seated sense of entitlement (that "this is okay") which goes into the Ixion concept. We think we actually know. We think can are in control. That the common rules of decency and human regard aren't being compromised. No, no...we know better!

And when we find out we don't know and how we aren't in control, we burn with a superbly disoriented 'how did this happen' sort of shame. But it's too late!

That the Ixion personality lives and breathes entitlement, and that this sort of entitlement is shrouded in ego dreams of Neptune gone awry...that makes such problems particularly hard to pin down.

Until of course, the bloody truth comes spilling out.

So...can there be lesser expressions of Ixion? You  know, something south of murder or adultery? Certainly! And we have embodied such concepts into the English language. For instance, the old expression do as I say, not as I do is at it’s core, rather Ixion: it says you have to obey the rules, I don’t. The pop slogan ‘it’s all about me!’ is oh-so very Ixion…it says I’m entitled to have what I want, that I can do and take whatever I want because I want to…and who cares about your rules, laws and human moral or ethical decency?

No one says this kind of energy can’t be used to good effect: the demanding chef may make great food and be well understood by their sous-chefs and great friends despite all. As an astrologer I would hazard a guess that great surgeons and military leaders all have a prominent Ixion in their chart. The assertiveness isn’t bad – it’s how you use it, the regard you have for others which can become a problem!

Being that Ixion has a 249 year orbit, it doesn’t move through the signs all that fast. It entered Virgo in 1906, Libra in 1935, Scorpio in 1966 and Sagittarius – (where it will be until 2020) in 1996.

About mid-century, there were a group of years (1945-1953) when Ixion was in a long-term transiting conjunction with Neptune, with exactitude happening in 1949 at 14 Libra. Does this mean that everyone born during this time is a killer? Obviously not! But it is likely that people born during these years have some sort of issue with what’s known in psych circles (pop and otherwise) as ‘boundary issues.’

And since what parents don’t know they can’t teach, those born during this time who haven’t mastered their own Neptune/Ixion issues may well be more likely to pass them on to their kids than others.

That goes for companies and technologies too. The years cited are also when the large-scale machinery of ‘processed food’ began. That serious questions about obesity due to additives, chemicals and (at the other end of the spectrum) altered nutritional values of/in food began popping up a couple of years ago when Ixion hit the sextile point to its transiting  conjunction with Neptune? Might that suggest that part of the long-term connection with the planet (Neptune) which controls Ixion’s orbit is a cycle of our going in-and-out-of-touch with values or our ability to value ourselves? 

That would hold consistent with boundary issues, since boundaries are not only about letting others in or becoming co-dependent, but about valuing the ‘us’ which is (or should be) well contained by our own boundaries.

And speaking of Neptune (as toxicity versus purity), Ixion and boundaries (aka containments), does anyone else see the dotted line from this moment to the nuclear situation in Japan?

Anyway...along with associating Ixion with narcissism, perhaps we should associate Ixion with the attributes which manifest as or go along with addiction-prone or co-dependent personalities – all of which is a measure of our own ability to moderate with ourselves. In other words, some measure of assertiveness is good. A total lack of assertiveness is self defeating, a total indulgence in assertive entitlement is either totalitarianism or grandiosity.

 The Winged Man by Odilon Redon
(before 1880)

And again, it’s all in how you use it. But maybe even more importantly, it’s probably all in being aware of it. I don’t know about you, but to my thinking there’s nothing more annoying than those who are well heeled or well protected refusing to see why a lack of protection or lack of food or drinking water is some kind of problem.

Really? They need to have their Ixion examined!
The point of all this is that at March 18 at 11:42am (UT/+0) Ixion will be on station/going retrograde at 18 Sagittarius. It’s station effects began on the 16th and will extend into March 20th….when the Sun will be at 29 Pisces, about to make its Aries ingress.

Anyone willing to recall what’s been going on around our world while Uranus was at 29 Pisces?

And Neptune is still at 29 Aquarius.

When any astronomical body goes retrograde at a 2nd decan (degree 10-19) degree of Sagittarius we expect upticks in fervent emotionality, proclamations and efforts to ‘push boundaries.’ Given Ixion’s apparent connections with boundary issues, that probably goes double.

Then we add in the specific degree: 18 Sag adds a note of necessity to deal with hardships if one is to be thought sincere…against which it specifically cites the likelihood of mental illness. So while in a physical sense these two are not connected, the idea of Ixion – the plus and minus of our ability to own or abandon our Self, others, mentality, standards, etc….that seems entirely fitting.

Disturbingly so, perhaps.

And yet, there are signs that this may also be a turning point. Ixion is going retrograde with Panacea (making peace) just behind at 17 Sagittarius, meaning Ixion will do an ‘about face’ (into retrograde)...then confront Panacea first thing. With this station happening in square to Mars at 18 Pisces, one question is whether any of us can get past our ego in dealing first and foremost with ourselves and our failings.

That Mars is in this picture opposition Juno makes Ixion the ‘t’ in a t-square: entitlement of the personal and willful kind (that akin to pride and arrogance) is what we need to get past. The issue is not the issue – we are. Our issues are our issues, in every sense of the idea!

With Mercury in exact opposition to Saturn in this moment, who we are versus who we want to be to others is the focus. Though we may want their approval or think they’re wrong not to side with us, the real question is where our feelings of entitlement really lie.

What are we entitled to be or do? Do we live in this world alone or are we dependent to whatever degree on others?

The Aries Mercury trine Ixion/Panacea says it’s easy to defend our own opinions. Against this we have Saturn sextile Ixion/Panacea saying it’s possible to reach some agreement or learn something new now. 

In the end, maybe the most important thing to understand is the Jupiter part of this whole Ixion story…ultimately we know that if what we are doing is beyond the bounds of morality or sustainable reality, we will fall. And if we fall in such a moment, the fate of Ixion will become ours. The old saying ‘act in haste, repent in leisure’ is an incredibly mild-mannered way of describing Ixion’s ultimate consignment to eternal tortured disorientation. But when we do these things to ourselves willfully, do we really deserve to be forgiven?

Or merely dealt with and forgotten? Ixion is so often an answer when maybe it should be a question. We all spend a lot of time justifying what we do. Maybe we should be asking ourselves why we think we're justified (entitled) to do that.

And not how, but whether we should forgive ourselves - and what forgiveness entitles us to moving forward.


  1. Wow, you missed half the story of ixion and disregarded the equation with Cain.

    Ixion refused to pay the "bride price" to the father of his beautiful wife. He recognized, ahead of his time, that a human being is not property. However, the father-in-law decided to "take" the bride price in the form of four of Ixion's best horses, thus making Ixion a victim (in his mind) of unjust thievery, whilst the father-in-law exacted the price the current culture/law demanded against Ixion's will (meaning the king is not above the law or current said definition of the law).

    So here is the question: are women second-class citizens subjugated as chattel? or is that simply an illusion promulgated by current human norms made "law"?

    It is a rhetorical point. Ixion saw through the illusion and with deft sincerity invited his new father-in-law to "bury-the-hatchet" and instead threw his old, ill-illumened carcass into a fiery pit! I wonder what his new bride thought of that?

    So, of course, the current society exiled him, for at that moment, no one had ever "murdered" another and there was no "law" to cover that action. Point being, society was wrong to equate any human with "money" and trade them as such. The more appropriate term for this is slavery. AND Ixion was equally wrong for plotting and executing to end the life of another. Two wrongs still don't make a right; however, Jupiter recognizes and forgives Ixion (the god's love it when you see through the illusions of society and recognize divine truth), and give him a shot at immortality (residence upon olympus).

    This is exactly the same story as Cain and Abel, for Abel in Hebrew is Havel and it translates to "mist" or as we might surmise illusion. When Cain (Qaheen) "kills" Abel (Havel), the occult meaning of this story is the slaying of the illusions of this world. Remember, Cain came not from Eve but "of God", Abel is the son of Eve (also known as Maya, Hera, and every other supreme Mother goddess).

    The "cool" note about the story of Ixion is that he recognizes the supreme illusion maker (Hera) and then mounts "nephele" the substitute Hera and creates the race of centaurs. Don't forget, Cain went on to create a great city and race of men (which was wiped-out during the flood), but at one time there were men (i.e. centaurs), who walked upon all fours (meaning they were fully grounded upon the knowledge of what was divine truth and what was illusion, truth.)

    No more are there Ixions, or Cains, men of Ptah or Thoth, people of Vishnu or the race of Quetzlcotyl. But there are men of Science and men of meta-sciences, each with two feet upon the ground, perhaps one day they will mount the "wheel of life" and create an illusion grounded between the imagination and the material truth forever evolving toward a greater realization of mankind.

    What exactly that is I'll leave to the readers but rest assured, Ixion turns upon the wheel of life forever suffering because he chose to re-engage the illusions of this world and thus separate himself from mount olympus. This is a very "tempting" place and if you wish to exit it, you must divest yourself of the illusions of fear and desire and leave off mounting "clouds".

    PS. Hera stays with Zeus because Hera represents the Supreme Source, the one true Goddess from which all other Gods and Goddesses emerge, so every time Zeus dallies in the biblical sense with another "maiden" he is still lying with Hera (she is just wearing a costume) and Hera is generally pissed-off, like any other woman, who wishes men weren't so visual, but I digress.

    1. Yes, but it's an interesting digression. As for discarding a parallel with Cain, the story of Ixion is often referred to as the 'Greek myth version of the Cain and Able story' - I think that's how I referred to it myself in the post on the myth itself (it's linked under 'Mythic Astrology' and is called 'Ixion: Our Conflict of Self') - but when it comes to astrological interpretations of the story/myth behind a point interpreting THAT myth (and not one which may seem linked to it) tends to be my priority.

      As to your point about Nephele bearing the first of the centaurs, I'm not sure if you're saying that's a good thing or not. As a race the Greek centaurs were constantly plagued by inner conflicts and emotional outbursts - again, in the myths, which is to say definitely pre-Disney!