Nessus is the bad boy of the centaurs. But listen to him and he’ll wise you up about surviving on the mean streets.

Astronomical Stuff

Nessus was discovered in 1993, the third centaur to come to light after Chiron and Pholus. Its orbit is eccentric, from within Uranus out to beyond Neptune taking it around 122 years. Like the other centaurs its orbit is inclined to the plane of the ecliptic.

Mythological Stuff

Nessus was a centaur, part of the gang who used to roam the hills of Greece back in mythological times. Nessus, probably the meanest of the whole lot. He’s got what you might call a previous record. He was involved in that riot at the wedding of Peirithoüs, king of the Lapiths and Hippodameia when the centaurs got drunk and tried to abduct and rape the bride and other female guests and the centaurs ended up in a full scale battle with their hosts, the Lapiths (see numerous decorations on vases, metopes from the south side of the Parthenon plus Italian Renaissance paintings for further graphic detail).

The next time we find Nessus he’s working as a ferryman across the river Evenus and who should come along but Hercules and his lady wife Deianeira, she’s a beauty of course. Nothing less would do for the heroic Hercules. Problem is the boat’s too small for all three. So mighty Hercules offers to wade across while his lady travels in the boat with Nessus. As I said the lady is a beauty and Nessus never being one to pass up an opportunity decides to rape her once the boat has reached the other side and while Hercules is still half way across. Her screams get her husband’s attention and he draws his bow and shoots one of his poison arrows. Hits Nessus who’s dying now. And as he’s dying he tells Deianeira to take some of his blood (and sperm) to use as a love philtre if she ever fears that her husband might stray from her. She believes him!

So years later Hercules is off on a mission “Bye honey. Keep the bed warm for me” – one of his corny lines. Deianeira smiles benignly. “Take this tunic husband dear and wear it in memory of me.” She’s impregnated the tunic with the “love potion” that Nessus gave her. He’s gone, waving from the hilltop and a drop of the so-called love philtre falls to the ground and starts fizzing and bubbling. Deianeira realises Nessus’ trick. This is no love potion, this is deadly poison. Nessus’ blood still carried the poison from the arrow that killed him. Quickly she sends a messenger to tell Hercules not to put on the tunic but it’s too late. The poison is burning into his muscular gym-toned form like napalm. Tries to tear it off but he’s tearing off his own flesh with it. Finally in agony he begs his own son to light a funeral pyre so that he can lie on it and die. But did Hercules ever remember the prophecy that said that no living man could ever kill him. Right, no living man but a dead centaur killed him.

Nessus transit

This piece of research began with a prayer. I was due a transit of Nessus over my Jupiter in Aquarius in the 11th house and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I mean Nessus has a nasty reputation. My fantasy kicked in (I should mention that I have Pisces rising) and with it fear. In my mind, Nessus was becoming an enemy and I was to be attacked by this monstrous centaur who had killed the hero Hercules from beyond the grave. What chance did I stand?

In my imagination Nessus became this street wise urban thug who would cheat, lie and manipulate to get what he wanted or if he couldn’t get it, to get revenge instead. Scary stuff but I know what happens if you approach a situation with fear. You’re in line for a self-fulfilling prophecy – since energy follows thought.

So I thought well if Nessus is going to be around I want him as my ally not as an enemy and I tried to imagine what that would mean. And this is what I said to him:

“Nessus, I need your street-wisdom to tell me who the poisoners are. I need you to tell me who’s going to cheat me or rip me off on whatever deal. I need your cunning to get me through whatever tight spots life puts me in, and to see the shit coming before it hits. But I don’t want your vengefulness. I got to rise above the need to get back, get even whatever the deal. ‘Cos that revenge can create karma that goes round and comes round and carries from beyond the grave. Stuff that can curse and lead to all sorts of consequences down the ancestral line or the line of incarnations. I don’t want to set up shit like that.”

With Nessus as my ally I can spot the con-artists, the scam-merchants and the shysters. I’ve learned a bit more street wisdom. I’ve probably substantially increased my chances of survival. You see, with my Jupiter in Aquarius I tend to walk around with a very idealistic (and some would say naive) view of humanity. Thanks Nessus.


Case Study

A few months later I get a phone call from Charlie, a long-term musician friend of mine. He’s been getting email from an astrologer in the States telling him that he has this magical window of opportunity coming up that lasts 56 days when Pluto and the Moon will be in exactly the same place they were when he was born. So I tell him that’s bollocks. The Moon comes back to its natal place once every 28 days so no big deal. Pluto on the other had has a cycle of 248 years so unless he’s been lying to me about his age, that is just not on. He tells me that confirms his suspicions, ‘cos the astrologer from the States keeps improving her offer, reducing her prices “for only $40 this once in a life time magical window of opportunity… etc” Stinks of scam I tell him. I thought so he says.

Then a few weeks later we’re in a restaurant and Charlie he tells me he’s had the attention of another couple of scamsters. One a classic 419 scam known formally as an advance fee fraud. The name comes from the part of the Nigerian civil code banning such illegal activities.

The scam works as follows. You receive an email asking for your help. Telling you that a member of government or other important person has died intestate and there’s a few million dollars at stake and they need a safe bank account to pass the money through. In gratitude for the use of your bank account they will give you the odd million. Usually these letters are plausible. If you reply there are phone calls, maybe meetings to set things up and then they tell you they need a couple of thousand up front for administrative costs… and then maybe more money for other expenses like lawyers etc and you find that you’re paying out and they, having got as much as they think they can get from you, just disappear.

Believe me, many intelligent, educated people have been suckered like this: university lecturers, eminent scientists, solicitors. All left brain people who are unaware of being manipulated emotionally. And the hook of course is greed.

But Charlie has been around the block a few times, and decides to play with the scammers, scambaiting they call it. He enters into a dialogue with them. They suggest he flies out to Dubai for a meeting. But when he starts asking for more assurances they start pouring on the emotional pressure – how this person is suffering, how they thought they could rely on him – and he gets back to them not be so emotional and he wants to deal with this in a business-like way. He also reminds them that it’s going to cause a lot of suspicion if he suddenly pays a few million into his current account! Eventually the emails stop. They realise they’re wasting their time and they give up.

Then a bit later, he gets a completely unrelated offer. An entrepreneur is setting up a gig and wants to use Charlie’s band. Good fee. Two and a half grand (£2500).  Fine, so he gets the gig organised and the entrepreneur sends him a cheque for the fee. But the cheque is made out for £4000. So he contacts them and they say whoops, administrative error, please bank the cheque and send us the difference. So he pays in the cheque but, being a canny sod, waits the three days for it to clear. While he’s waiting he gets messages from the entrepreneur asking him where is the money he was going to send them. He tells them the cheque hasn’t cleared yet. Then he gets a message from the bank that the cheque has bounced.

Apparently a number of cheque-books were stolen from a company and the thieves have been trying to pass these cheques off to get cash by using a number of similar scams.

The well-paying gig was never going to happen of course, it was just a lure and fortunately most of the other members of the band were able to find other work for that evening.

So Charlie and me are sitting in a restaurant while he’s telling me all this and it pops into my head that hang on a minute, three scams – there’s something going on. It must be Nessus involved.

And when I have the chance to check his chart and transits, there it is! Charlie’s natal Sun is in the last degree of Aries and Nessus is transiting square to it. Bingo! Then I check his natal Nessus ‘cos I want to see how he managed not to be conned and he has Nessus in Taurus in the 7th exactly opposing his Mars in the first house in Scorpio. Plus he has Scorpio rising. I tell him what’s going on and that he has the ability to undertake such scams himself if he chooses. He tells me that he’s looked at that part of himself and he chooses not to. That’s why he’s a friend.

Nessus the con artist

The con man is a particular type of thief. He doesn’t just break into your house or car and take whatever is valuable. He doesn’t threaten you with a knife in the street or jump you from behind in a dark alley. He gets you to believe a story in order to steal from you. There’s stealth involved, there’s a lie involved. You’ve been conned, gulled, suckered and that hurts just as much or more than the material loss.

There are other types of con as well. From the point of view of the street kid we met before. He trusts nobody, least of all the social and political system. For him the whole of the government is a con. The military is a con. Religion is a con. Compared to them, his little scams and deals are very small beer indeed.

More mythological stuff

I want to look some more at the mythology of Nessus. He’s got this reputation as the poisoner but l let’s look at where the poison came from. So, just to remind you of the story: Hercules died when he put on the tunic that had been soaked in a so-called “love philtre” made from the blood of Nessus. Nessus had died from Hercules’ arrows which were tipped with the poison that Hercules got from the Lernean Hydra – the monster with nine heads that lived in the swamps. Hydra was a poisonous water snake, water represents the feeling or emotional function. The poison had its origin in emotional poison.

Emotional poison is just as destructive or even more so than any physical poison. It can make us ill or it can kill us. Unexpressed grief or anger, unresolved hate, even the pain of unexpressed or rejected love can eat away at us emotionally, spiritually or physically. An emotional hurt caused by an unkind word or deed can stay with us all our lives. And if you think in terms of many lives, that poison can be transmitted from parent to child, from life to life. Karmic memory is emotional.

Note we’re not talking about thoughts here or sensations or intuitions. It’s emotion that carries the poison. And those who are the most vulnerable are those individuals who are undeveloped let us say in the emotional arena. They may be able to wield formidable intellects but when it comes to feelings, they are lost.

And that typifies much of Western society. An overdependence on the intellect so that emotion is sidelined or considered as an also-ran. And by ignoring emotion we become vulnerable to emotional manipulation. Which is exactly what happens in politics, in advertising, in journalism.

Nessus and the Descendent

The descendent is the cusp of the seventh house. The house of relationships and partnerships. The horizon line is the line between ego and alter, me and the other. Planets on the descendent or in the seventh house tend to be projected onto the partner, or any close relationship. For example with the sun in this position, the sense of self is projected onto the other. Relationships are more than important because my sense of self is invested in the other person.

With the moon in this position I take care of the other’s needs rather than my own. I may tend to mother other people. With Mars in this position, I’m projecting physical strength onto the other person instead of knowing my own strength. With Saturn in this position I’m looking for authority in the other person instead of owning my own authority. With Uranus I’m projecting my sense of unique individuality onto the other and going for magical Uranian individuals to complete what I feel I lack. And so on.

With Nessus in that position the danger is that I see relationships in terms of someone is trying to trick me. I can’t trust anyone. There must be a scam or something.

So even if the relationship is clean, I’m always on the look-out for the sting. And sometimes I find it when it isn’t there. I blame the other person for something they haven’t done. Maybe I turn the other person into what I expect of them – they become what I expect them to become –  and I’ve ended up deluding myself and losing a friendship.

Nessus and the Sun

I prefer Nessus in aspect to the sun to Nessus/moon contacts. At least with the sun it’s a bit more conscious. I knew (briefly thank God) a trader in the securities markets. Nessus square the sun. He was an ace manipulator. Hated losing. Vengeful. Fine, you could see exactly where you stood with him. You knew he was going to try to put one over on you.

With Nessus conjunct the sun, the consciousness is hard-wired to the whole Nessian game of manipulation. They just don’t know anything else. They look at everything in terms who gets one over whom. Who can con whom. Who can spin and get away with it.  Don’t even think about showing them what they’re doing or – heaven forbid – suggesting that they stop. They can’t stop and even if they pretend to stop, their stopping will just be part of another strategy or manipulation.

And if you sort of get the feeling I’m describing a politician here, you’re damned right I am. Tony Blair, the former British Prime-Minister has Nessus conjunct the sun in Taurus. But please, please don’t tell him. He’ll probably be flattered.

Nessus and Mars

Mars is in a way the antithesis of Nessus. Mars is direct and to the point. Whereas Nessus is everything but. So, when Mars is working with Nessus in a chart there are various scenarios. Mars’ directness can give the clarity to countermand or override the deceitfulness of Nessus. It can give the individual a strong ability to “cut the crap”, to see the games. If pushed to an extreme it can see conspiracies in everything.

Nessus and Jupiter

I knew a solicitor who had Nessus conjunct Jupiter conjunct the ascendant in Taurus. At first meeting he was positive, bouncy and jovial. His joviality however hid a lying manipulative bastard. He could lie so charmingly and he would just get away with it. He just defined the word shyster.

Nessus and Saturn

Saturn is the planet that takes responsibility. With Nessus in hard aspect to Saturn, the sting is to deny responsibility and to dump all the responsibility on someone else.

Alan, a gay friend of mine meets a beautiful, sexy Brazilian guy just before Christmas. After doing what ever they do he gives the Brazilian his phone number and they arrange to meet up again. The Brazilian guy tells him that he is staying in London with his parents who are going back shortly to Brazil. Meanwhile he doesn’t want to spend Christmas with his parents and their boring Portuguese friends, can he stay for a few days. Alan is delighted. Good sex over Christmas is just the sort of midwinter boost he needs. It doesn’t matter that the Brazilian can hardly speak English… Deal!

After Christmas the Brazilian asks Alan if he can put him up for a few months. Now Alan has made this type of mistake before, moving someone in just because the sex is good. He phones me and asks me to check the birth charts. And I discover that the day of the first meeting was within days of the Brazilian guy’s first hit of his Saturn return. I tell him to be careful about taking responsibility for this chap.

So he arranges a meeting with someone to act as interpreter to really get clear all the angles and implications. But an hour before the meeting is due to take place, Brazilian boy says he can’t make it because the Social Security are coming round to his old flat. Takes all his gear (all the bottles of expensive personal care products) and leaves. Alan is of course devastated, he doesn’t really understand what is going on but he realises that a little pain now is better than a lot of pain later.

A few weeks later Brazilian guy comes back and Alan gets more of the story. He’s overstayed his British visa and needs somewhere to stay while he earns money to pay for a marriage of convenience with a gay woman. He’s desperate, he needs to borrow money, he’s got a job in his uncle’s restaurant and he can pay it back. Just for a couple of months, please. And he’s sobbing on the sofa. Fortunately Alan is just about hard and cynical enough not to be taken in by the tears.

Later while researching Nessus, I check the chart of the Brazilian guy. He’s got Nessus a degree away from a conjunction with Saturn in Gemini. So it wasn’t just “take responsibility for me I’m a poor boy coping with a Saturn return in a foreign country”. There was a scam involved as well. Alan was being manipulated. If he had given this character the key to his flat, he would have been firstly harbouring an illegal immigrant and would probably have ended up with an enormous phone bill for calls to Brazil (bigger than what he already has run up).

So when Nessus is working with Saturn, part of the deal is that the fall guy ends up taking the rap for whatever the conman has done.

Nessus and illusion

Nessus is not the only planet with a reputation for illusion and deception. What makes the energy of Nessus distinct from that of Neptune is that of revenge. Neptune at it’s lower or unevolved state goes in for illusion, anything to cope with the pain of existence. I might delude myself that I am a great lover or a competent businessman. And you might go along with my illusion until you see through it. Neptunian deception begins in self-deception for as any aware Piscean will tell you, if you want to tell a credible lie, first believe it yourself. And again the point of Neptunian deception is to avoid the pain of admitting my failures or shortcomings.

When Neptune is allied with Pluto, Plutonic power and intensity is added to the Neptunian illusion and we have the power to manipulate through creating an illusion. Just as advertising does. “You know that you won’t be a good-enough mother unless you use our washing powder.” “You know that you’re getting older and less loveable so you’d better get rid of those wrinkles with our cream” The point with advertising is to sell. The point with most manipulation is to impose my will on you by creating the illusion that you are weak and I am strong and if you follow my way, you will be strong like me (never!) That is until you see through the game and take back your power (that’s what Pluto transits are for).

Nessus on the other hand isn’t after just creating an illusion. Neptune’s creams and lotions either work (you lose your wrinkles) or they don’t. Nessus’ creams and lotions burn your skin off and you can’t sue the company ‘cos they’ve gone out of business and are trading under another name now.

Keywords for Nessus






confidence trick





false accusations

poison including emotional poison


Nessus quotes


“Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power

to make you commit injustices.”


“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a

revolutionary act.”

George Orwell

“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on.”

William Burroughs

“If it sounds too good to be true, then it is!”




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