by Kari Noren-Hoshal
This article originally appeared in Issue #22 Libra New Moon, 2007 of Major Sky, an online astrology magazine published by Maurice Fernandez.
Ask anyone born between 1960 and early 1965 (when Chiron in Pisces opposed Pluto in Virgo) whether they have had a brush with death, or know someone who has, and the answer will be a resounding affirmative. It was during a session with a student of mine that nearly did not live to see her 23rd birthday, that I began my research on the near death experience. The feeling of connectedness that she felt at the moment she thought she might not live, brought back the simultaneously painful and euphoric memory of my own near brush with death at age fifteen. What I discovered as I continued my research both surprised me and made perfect sense. People born in the early 1960s and other time periods when Chiron made close hard aspects to Pluto, Neptune, Uranus or Saturn had either had a brush with death of their own or had a profoundly life-changing experience relating to the death of someone close to them. Additionally, those who had had a near death experience had gone on to make that experience a stepping stone to the development of significant healing and human service.
A U.S. News and World Report poll published in 1997 estimated that more than 15 million Americans have had a near death experience (or NDE). An NDE is described as a situation usually evolving from a sudden accident or life threatening illness in which the person becomes aware that their death is imminent. In other studies, more than 30 million Americans have reported having had an out of body experience, or OBE. OBE’s are often confused with NDE’s. An OBE is an experience of feeling separated from or of floating above the body. While the OBE experience is often reported as having happened when the person was under extreme stress, it is not experienced as a result of a life threatening accident or illness. In children, for example, the OBE is often experienced as a result of wanting to escape from a difficult or unsafe family life.
The term "near-death experience" (NDE) was coined in 1975 in the book Life After Life by Raymond Moody, MD. The near death experience can be of several types and levels. The two most common types are near death by accident and near death by sudden, life-threatening disease. Once the individual has lost consciousness or remains conscious but has determined that he or she is definitely going to die, there are a series of common experiences characteristic to the NDE.
Moody’s spells out these basic experiences and NDE levels in his book Life After Life and other subsequent texts: (paraphrased)
Common to All Levels:
In the interviews I have conducted with about twenty experiencers of NDEs another characteristic was common:
Compiled results below from studies from the 1980s show the percentages of NDEers who experienced varying stages of the NDE experience:
Kenneth Ring Study Evergreen Study Green & Friedman Study
The NDE Deepens the Process of Philosophical Evolution
In my work with the near death experience I have come to understand that the near death experience has the capacity to enhance the self-awareness of philosophical rites of passage as they occur. A person having an NDE in their childhood, early twenties or thirties is thrown into a pondering of questions of life and death at a premature age.
Yvonne Kason, M.D. a near death experiencer and NDE researcher has conducted extensive research on the ways in which NDEs trigger the rise of Kundalini energy. She has described this research in her book A Farther Shore: How Near Death and Other Extraordinary Experiences Can Change Ordinary Lives, 1996. Taking this idea one step further, I believe that kundalini energy is triggered in NDE experiencers, as well as in the general population, as we progress through the rites of passage of the six major outer planet transits that take place between the ages of 28 and 60:
Transit Corresponding Chakra
Whether aware of their astrological/philosophical significance, or not, all people undergo significant shifts in consciousness as they pass through these important life thresholds.
In the natural process of aging, the planning of the last part of one’s life (based upon a realistic confrontation with the idea of death) occurs at around age 50 with the Chiron Return. But what of the person who has experienced an NDE? Since the 1990’s the person who has experienced near death between childhood and his mid thirties has support from organizations such as IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies.) He or she now has a communicative outlet and others with whom to share his story. But he is usually still at a loss for how to integrate this information philosophically, until a much later age. The person who has experienced an NDE has had his world turned on its ear prematurely. He has come to accept the idea of death through the very vivid memory of his own experience. He may have experienced an unexpected rise of kundalini energy during the experience and/or the opening of the third eye or the crown chakra.
One of the most common reactions to having an NDE is that there must be a reason why one’s life has been spared. The desire to live a life in which we are "giving something back" and helping others is also common. The true, individualized avenue by which the NDE person can help others and "give back" however is not usually revealed until between the ages of 38 and 50. That is, between and including the periods of the Pluto Square, the Uranus Opposition and the Chiron Return.
Typically, the person experiencing an NDE will not fully integrate its philosophical lessons until he or she reaches the age of the Pluto Square or the Uranus Opposition. At these times the corresponding lessons of Pluto and Uranus come to the forefront. At ages 36-44 Pluto is urging us to eliminate a life which lacks personal integrity. At "midlife," ages 42-44, Uranus propels us toward breaking free and individuating toward a life which truly expresses our individual essence.
The bonus for the person who has experienced a relatively high level NDE (where he has progressed to the stage of being absorbed into the light or the life review) is the knowledge that "There is no judgment of one’s life beyond one’s own judgement." Using the enhanced courage gained from this experience, the NDE’er can then move toward their personal mid-life mission of the Uranus Opposition with heightened awareness and a sense of greater freedom.
In her text The Liquid Light of Sex: Kundalini, Astrology and the Key Life Transitions, Barbara Hand Clow mentions the near death experience as being ruled by Chiron because it involves the balancing of clear opposites: life and death, just as Chiron rules the balancing of opposites of the body and mind and the female and male energies. In Hand Clow’s view, with each major transit of outer planets (beginning with the Saturn Return,) corresponding chakra systems of the human body are opened up such that the person can live in greater alignment with his mind, body spirit connection. It is interesting to note that Chiron has its orbit between Saturn and Uranus and thus operates as a bridge to connecting Saturn (planet of physical manifestation) with the important soul development properties of the outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
When a person experiences a near death experience (NDE), at any age, the depth of awareness of the concept of human evolution is advanced. From my own experience and research, I will go on to propose that if a person has their NDE before the Saturn Return at age 28-30, each of the remaining stages of their evolution from their 30’s to their 60’s can be experienced with much greater awareness. This is because there has been more time spent in contemplation of these issues prior to their onset. With the sudden and dramatic NDE realization that we are part of the Source and that love is the essence of being, the crown chakra is suddenly opened to Spirit. As a result, this person is now faced with choices: The choice to use this connection for the benefit of others, the choice to do nothing, and the choice to continue along his or her prior path. In most cases that I have studied, in approximately 20 charts, the connection to Source eventually inspires the NDE experiencer to want to live a life that is in alignment with mind, body and spirit and one that includes some kind of humanistic service to others.
Chiron is an asteroid with a wildly erratic orbit that was discovered on November 1st, 1977. Scientists believe that it originated in the Kuyper Belt of asteroids between the planets Mars and Jupiter. Others propose that it was formed from debris outside our solar system which has temporarily migrated to the Kuyper Belt.
Chiron’s orbit varies widely. It takes about 50 years to complete an orbit around the Sun. While it most often orbits between Saturn and Uranus, it has been known to orbit between Jupiter and Saturn and between Uranus and Neptune. Overall, it is a maverick conforming to a widely irregular path. Because of its erratic orbit, Chiron spends an inordinate amount of time in the constellation of Aries and very little time in the constellation of Libra. Thus, people born with Chiron in Aries are the most common type and those born with Chiron in Libra are the least common type.
In the view of Barbara Hand Clow, author of Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets, Saturn "rules the body, formation and a completed structuring of the issues of the inner planets" and is in many ways a feminine planet, ruling the sign of Capricorn. Uranus, on the other hand, rules individuation and the spirit, and is a very masculine planet, ruling the sign of Aquarius. Chiron is thus the "bridge" between the opposites, between the body and the spirit, between female and male energies. In mythology, the god Chiron became known as "the wounded healer". Abandoned by his mother (the sea nymph Philyra) and father (Saturn) at birth, Chiron was adopted by Apollo the god of the sun, the arts and healing. Chiron’s tremendous empathy for his patients stemmed from having been abandoned by his parents and soon he became a master of the healing arts.
One way in which Chiron signifies "the wounded healer", is because he learned to heal his life as a result of his own wounding by parental abandonment. In the final chapter of his life, Chiron was wounded by a poison arrow he had created for Hercules. Hercules shot Chiron in the leg with his own arrow during a war. Because Chiron was immortal, he suffered terribly but was not able to die. During this time he continued to heal others and thus we have the second origin of the term "the wounded healer." In the final chapter of the Chiron story, Prometheus stole fire from Zeus for the benefit of humanity. Prometheus was punished by having his liver eaten daily by vultures, while it healed again at night. (Those Greeks were geniuses at concocting excruciating tortures!) Chiron offered to die in exchange for Prometheus’s freedom. This wish was granted and man was given use of fire while Chiron descended peacefully into the underworld. Thus, even in his dying, Chiron benefited humanity by helping Prometheus to be freed to bring fire to Mankind.
According to Barbara Hand Clow in her book The Liquid Light of Sex: Kundalini, Astrology, And the Key Life Transitions, the naming of the asteroid Chiron after the famous healer centaur, half man and half horse, presents the astrologer with a new way to view the connection between the human body and spirit.
As we contemplate Chiron, we begin to respond to an image of ourselves as both animal and human instead of as human only, with the peculiar sense of being separate and superior over the biology of the planet. This realization evokes an intensely sensual and beautiful integrated image of being an earthling. By uniting ourselves with animal powers—a basic tenet of shamanic wisdom—we heal the separation we feel from other beings on the planet.
Chiron’s lessons then, astrologically, have to do with healing and with healing duality in particular. It teaches how to synthesize male and female, human and animal, mind and body, life and death. Chiron heals our connection to spirit, which is graphically demonstrated by the peculiar course it takes between the inner and outer planets.
Thus, the significance of Chiron in astrology is twofold. First, it is the primary celestial object that has an orbit between Saturn and Uranus. In the astrology of the ancient Greeks and Romans, Saturn was the farthest object visible in the sky. Thus, Saturn was known as the outer boundary or the "restrictor" of the solar system that held the other planets in check. When Uranus was discovered in 1781 it expanded our view of the solar system vastly. The discoveries of Neptune and Pluto followed in 1846 and 1930 respectively. Chiron, the next major celestial object to be discovered in 1977 became known as the "bridge" between the inner planets of antiquity and the outer planets of the 1700’s forward.
Chiron has a second very strong claim to significance. It is the belief of astrologers such as Zane Stein and Barbara Hand Clow that Chiron is a time transition "bridge" between the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius which many think to begin sometime between 2050 and 2150. Astrologers propose that since Chiron was discovered in 1977, changes in popular thought have moved strongly toward a New Age, holistic and natural way of thinking. Astrologer Barbara Hand Clow has surmised that Chiron is the "bridge" that will help humanity to transition over the next 500years from the Age of Pisces (in which man created paternalistic religions) to the Age of Aquarius (in which man will discover his own mortal and divine nature as co-creator and healer.) Because it is believed that Chiron will only remain in our solar system for a finite period of time (perhaps only 1000 years) it seems as if it has come for the express purpose of helping us to make the transition between the Ages.
The discovery of Chiron in 1977 is closely correlated with the beginnings of serious research into the phenomenon of psychic healing and the near death experience. Astrologer Barbara Hand Clow notes that around 1977 "strange breakthroughs in the human connection to the spirit world began to occur."
In the late 1970’s, the general cultural phenomena of ESP, visionary breakthrough, and spontaneous channelling surfaced around the world. Historically, there have always been "visionaries," people who had paranormal experiences, or received communications from other dimensions. But this planetary eruption of communications from other realms appears to be a worldwide event which is only now in the beginning stages. (p. xiii Chiron: Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets)
Medical doctor, Raymond Moody, first published an account of 150 stories he had gathered from people who had had near death experiences in his book Life After Life in 1975. The popularity of the bestselling book launched Moody on speaking tours across the country and a further series of bestselling books on the subject entitled Reflections on Life After Life, 1977 and The Light Beyond 1988 among others.
Three-time near death experiencer, Dannion Brinkley, was nearly killed by lightning in his first experience on September 17th, 1975. He went on to write about his experience of his first two NDE’s in his New York Times bestselling book Saved By The Light which was published 1994. A third book "The Secrets of the Light" published in 2004 tells the story of Brinkley’s third NDE.
Noted near death experience researcher, P.M.H. Atwater, had three near death experiences herself in January and March of 1977. She has written about these in her many books which include, I Died Three Times in 1977 published in 1980 and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Near Death Experiences published in 2000.
It is interesting to note this very close time correspondence between the discovery of Chiron on November 1st, 1977 and the experiences and publishing dates of near death experience protagonists Moody, Brinkley and Atwater.
My research in the astrology of the near death experience is still very new. Beginning in June of 2006, I am still in the process of gathering the hundreds of charts needed to show statistically significant evidence of my theory.
In studying dozens of charts of friends, volunteers and famous people who have had near death experiences, I have found similarities in "hard" aspects between Chiron and the planets, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. In these charts, Chiron "the bridge" is often found in opposition to Uranus and Pluto in the charts of those born in the late 1950’s and early 1960s. Squares of Chiron and Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are found in the charts of those born between the 1920’s and early 1950s.
Because Chiron symbolizes a "bridging of opposites," I think it is very appropriate that we find Chiron in hard aspect to outer planets of people who have experienced significant NDEs, primarily, the Chiron opposition and the Chiron square.
Overall, these hard aspects indicate that the energies of these planets must either be experienced equally (the opposition 180 degrees) or that the energies of these planets will challenge each other in the person’s life (the square, 90 degrees.)
The quincunx or 150 degree aspect between Chiron and the planets Saturn, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto is also seen in the charts of people who have had NDE’s. Kathryn Brinkley, wife of Dannion, mentioned above, has had two very dramatic NDE’s and has a quincunx (albeit widely aspected) between Chiron and Pluto.
At the same time, a trine of 120 degrees, (a "soft" aspect) of Chiron to Pluto is found in the chart of one famous near death experiencer, Dannion Brinkley. I concur with the findings of Martin Lass in his book, Chiron, Healing Body and Soul, that the trine between Chiron and Pluto indicates "a person who has been a master healer in past lives and will return again, in this life, to do healing work."
While Brinkley has an almost exact trine with 1 degree of orb, Brinkley ALSO has an exact square (of less than 1 degree of orb) between his Chiron and his Saturn. Lass describes this person as having "a deep desire to attain mastery of the material world—physically, emotionally, mentally, financially and politically as the only defense against his wounds and issues." Based on the example of Brinkley’s chart combination of very hard and very soft aspects, and the different types of NDE’s Brinkley has experienced, I am including the Chiron trine in my study.
As an astrologer, I follow the guidelines of evolutionary astrology as conceived by Jeffrey Wolf Green. Porphyry houses are used. Orbs of Pluto and other outer planets, Saturn through Neptune may extend for as many as 12 degrees (6 degrees on each side).
The house placement of Chiron and the other aspected planet is also considered in this study. I am in agreement with astrologer Melanie Reinhart that the person who has a natal placement of Chiron in one of the traditional houses of healing, self or career is most likely to express their Chiron through one of the healing arts.
In her book Chiron and the Healing Journey Melanie Reinhart notes the research of astrologer Eve Jackson who compiled a statistical study of Chiron in the charts of 115 healers and therapists in 1985. According to Jackson, the house most frequently occupied by Chiron in the charts of physical, psychological and spiritual healers was the 10th house followed by the 1st and 12th, the 6th, and then the 8th. A high proportion of those with Chiron in the 8th and 12th were spiritual or psychic healers, or psychotherapists working with the subconscious.
Notes NDEers with Chiron in opposition to Uranus are:
Noted NDE’ers with Chiron in opposition to Pluto are:
Noted NDE’ers with Chiron squaring Saturn are:
Noted NDE’ers with Chiron squaring Uranus:
Noted NDE’ers with Chiron squaring Neptune:
Noted NDE’ers with Chiron squaring Pluto:
Noted NDE’ers with Chiron Quincuxing Pluto:
Noted NDE’ers with Chiron Trining Pluto:
In my continued research I look forward to analyzing the transits and aspects which occur during the time period surrounding a given NDE. This should prove to be especially interesting in the cases of Dannion and Kathryn Brinkley and P.M.H. Atwater who have experienced multiple near death experiences. I am in the process of interviewing people who have had near death experiences. Please contact me at 410-662-4676 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to participate in my ongoing study.
A Farther Shore: How Near-Death and Other Extraordinary Experiences Can Change Ordinary Lives by Yvonne Kason, M.D. and Teri Degler. Toronto, Canada: Harper-Collins, 1996.
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, Los Angeles: Self Realization Fellowship, 1946.
Chiron, Transforming Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets by Barbara Hand Clow, Llewellyn Publications, 1993
Chiron, Healing Body and Soul by Martin Lass, Llewellyn Publications, 2005
Chiron, the New Planet In Your Horoscope by Richard Nolle, American Federation of Astrologers Inc., 1983
Chiron and the Healing Journey: An Astrological and Psychological Perspective by Melanie Reinhart, Penguin Books Ltd., 1989
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Near Death Experiences by P.M.H. Atwater. Alpha Books: Penguin Group USA, 2000. Major Sky Issue 22 Libra New Moon 2007 30
Essence and Application, A View From Chiron by Zane B. Stein, Self Published, 1995
Life after Life by Ramond A. Moody, Jr., M.D. New York: Bantam Books, 1975.
Liquid Light of Sex: Kundalini, Astrology, And the Key Life Transitions by Barbara Hand Clow. Rochester VT: Bear & Company, 1991.
Saved By The Light, The True Story of A Man Who Died Twice and the Profound Revelations He Received by Dannion Brinkley with Paul Perry, Harper Paperbacks, 1994.
Website: The International Association For Near-Death Studies, Inc., www.iands.org
Website: Near Death Experiences and The AfterLife by Kevin Williams, www.near-death.com.
Kari Noren-Hoshal is a practicing astrologer in Baltimore, Maryland. She became interested in sacred traditions of world cultures at an early age living in Panama, Colombia, Nicaragua and Egypt between the ages of 7 and 21. She teaches an internship program in astrology and publishes a monthly column in the Baltimore HealthQuest Magazine which can be viewed through her website: www.karmaspace.com. She is a student of Evolutionary Astrology with the Jeffrey Wolf Green School of Evolutionary Astrology and can be reached at email@example.com, 410-662-4676.
Kari first presented the information included in this article at NORWAC, 2007.
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