Helena Christensen: A Brief History
Born to a Danish father and Peruvian mother in Copenhagen on December 25th 1968, supermodel Helena Christensen was at the height of her fame in the 1990s and was one of the original Victoria’s Secret Angels as well as being a spokesmodel for Revlon with campaigns for Prada, Chanel, Hermes and Versace amongst others.
Besides gracing countless magazine covers and trotting up the catwalks of Paris, New York and Milan, you may remember her as that girl in Chris Isaak’s music video for Wicked Game.
It is not Christensen’s varied modelling career that concerns me today, however, but the placement of the Centaur Pholus in her birth chart.
As I was reading about Christensen’s life a few weeks ago, I noticed that the men she’s dated are all very similar to each other: unkempt, bearded, wild-looking (mostly rock stars), with a sort of rough-around-the-edges grunginess that immediately called to mind the “natural” and earthy qualities of the Centaurs.
“She’s either got Mars (the animus image in a woman’s chart) or Venus (image of the beloved, what we find beautiful) closely aspecting one of the Centaurs,” I thought to myself.
After researching her birth data, I quickly drew up her chart and found that I was right. She’s got a Venus-Pholus conjunction in Aquarius in the 3rd house, which in turn, trines Mars in Libra in the 11th house. (See chart below).
The Pholus Myth
Pholus was a wise centaur and a friend of Hercules’ who lived in a cave near Mount Pelion where he was trusted with guarding Dionysus’ sacred jar of wine.
He was under strict instructions not to open it and he took his role as guardian of the holy cask of wine very seriously as it did not belong to him alone but to the whole tribe of Centaurs.
In one version of the myth, the cask of wine was given to him as a gift by Dionysus. Pholus was asked to resolve an argument between Dionysus (god of drunkenness and ecstasy) and Hephaestus (god of metallurgy and volcanoes). He sided with Dionysus and was given charge of the wine as a thank you.
Hercules was visiting the cave sometime before or after completing his fourth labour (the capture of the Erymanthian Boar).
When Hercules drank from the jar of wine that was in Pholus’ possession, the neighbouring centaurs’ caught a whiff of its intoxicating scent, which turned them mad. They charged into the cave and were subsequently slain by Hercules.
In the upheaval, Pholus picked up one of Hercules’ poisoned arrows, fascinated that such a tiny thing could cause so much ruckus. The arrow pierced him in the foot and he died immediately.
Pholus in the Birth Chart
The function of Pholus in the birth chart has been the subject of much debate in the astrological community. Pholus was discovered in 1992 and due to his relatively recent discovery and long orbital period of about 90 years, astrologers have been putting fourth various theories as to what it is that astrological Pholus might symbolise.
It is only after astrologers have spent years observing the movement of a new planet that they can say definitively what qualities it might embody in our own souls. Naturally, astrologers have looked to the Pholus myth for clues about his meaning as well as studying his behaviour by progression and transit.
Information surrounding the astrological function of Pholus is still fairly thin on the ground when compared to other planetary archetypes, however, thanks to the efforts of astrologers Zane Stein and Melanie Reinhart, who have taken an especial interest in the Centaurs, information on Pholus’ astrological function is slowly starting to emerge.
Astrological Pholus: Key Concepts
- Here is a list of the different qualities that are embodied by Pholus in the astrological chart as compiled by various astrologers.
- “In Greek mythology Centaurs were described as wild goat-men, who often took the role of the orgiastic interloper at weddings, where the bride was carried off. In other words, they carried the projection of the negative expression of male instincts.” –Melanie Reinhart
- “In Greek mythology, Pholus was the keeper of the sacred jar of wine of Dionysus, the god of ecstasy, whose rites were often characterised by drunkenness and chaos, sometimes culminating in violence.” –Melanie Reinhart
- “The jar [of sacred wine] was not supposed to be opened for four generations, and astrological Pholus often highlights the releasing of ancestral processes, known or unknown to us…” –Melanie Reinhart
- “Pholus may involve a cascade of events which get out of control and often the way to deal with this is to take only essential actions until the flood subsides.” –Melanie Reinhart
- Resolution of addiction patterns
- Soul-mate connections, ‘lost twin’ syndromes
- Prenatal trauma
- Releasing of pent-up energy
- Storytelling and poetry (Pholus’ father was Silenus, drunkard and storyteller to the gods)
- Folktales, bards, minstrels, myths, sagas, raconteurs, orators, town-criers
- Addictions (the so-called “addictive personality”)/ Addict/Hedonist archetype
- Ritual intoxication (rites, plant ceremonies)
- Loosening of physical boundaries through ritual intoxication as a means of contacting the Divine
- Religious ecstasy/Ecstatic dance
- Ancestral healing, tribal healing
- Toxins, intoxication, euphoria
Pholus in the Chart of Helena Christensen
Looking at Christensen’s chart vis a vis her dating history has given me some important clues into the nature of the Centaur Pholus.
By looking at the kind of men Christensen is attracted to (Venus has been described as “passion aroused by beauty” and its placement in the birth chart shows us what turns us on), I have been able to glean more information on the nature of astrological Pholus.
Furthermore, astrological Mars gives us information into what ideals colour Christensen’s image of the animus.
Christensen’s Little Black Book of Men
By looking at the pictures of Christensen’s past (and present) flames, it is obvious that the Danish-Peruvian model clearly has a “type”. She likes her men to be men –hairy, gruff, Heathcliffe types who look a little uncouth and a little wild –like ruffians with poet’s souls and artistic temperaments.
Despite having Venus and Mars in air signs, she has consistently ended up with men that defy the “civilised,” “refined” and “idealised” face of the air element. This speaks volumes about the function of Pholus as an image of wild, untamed nature that is refined through the process of art, poetry and music.
Christensen dated INXS singer-songwriter Michael Hutchence for a period of four years in the early 90s. Hutchence died of a heroin overdose –a suspected suicide –in November 1997.
According to rock-music historian Ian McFarlane:
"Hutchence was the archetypal rock showman. He exuded an overtly sexual, macho cool with his flowing locks, and lithe and exuberant stage movements."
He co-founded the rock group INXS in 1977 and was their lead singer and chief lyricist, having shown an early interest in poetry as a young boy.
Pholus’ connection with Dionysus, god of wine, is evident in the particular persona that Hutchence embodied.
After her break-up from Hutchence, Christensen began dating actor-artist-sculptor-photographer-model-video artist Norman Reedus with whom she had one son in 1999. They dated for five years and still remain friends to this day, sharing joint custody of their son Mingus.
Christensen is currently dating Interpol singer-songwriter Paul Banks who was inspired to become a musician by the 90s band Nirvana. Although Interpol’s sound is smooth and melancholy, Banks has described himself as a hip-hop fan and works as a hip-hop DJ under the pseudonym DJ Fancypants. His good luck talisman is a bug trapped in amber, which he carries around in his pocket.
Tying it all Together
Banks and Hutchence are both singer-songwriters and Reedus is a sculptor and actor. Pholus’ orbit between Saturn (planetary archetype of borders and structure) and Neptune (planetary archetype of poetry, boundlessness and mysticism) tells us a little bit more about his astrological function.
I equate Pholus with a mystical collective (Neptune) power that is crytallised (Saturn) in the individual –since the wine belongs to all the Centaurs it is impersonal, collective, of the group. This seems to be constellated in the men that Christensen is attracted to because they channel collective energies (Neptune) and anchor it into form (Saturn).
No Fixed Abode: Free Spirits
Another thing the three men have in common is that they all lived abroad when they were younger. Hutchence moved with his family to Hong Kong when he was very young (and is where he discovered his love of poetry), Reedus lived in Ireland, Spain and Japan and Banks partly grew up in Mexico and speaks fluent Spanish. It was while he was living in Mexico that he became interested in the performing arts.
Since Pholus “lives” between the orbit of Neptune and Saturn, he is not of a place for long and can thus take on the identity of the location in which he resides (much like a shape-shifter or alchemist).
All this suggests that Pholus in the astrological chart represents a wild, natural and untamed aspect of the collective unconscious (Neptune) that seeks to incarnate (Saturn) through the magical medium of art and music. Pholus represents an ecstatic, orgiastic, drunken celebration of universal oneness that can then be anchored and given expression through the arts and/or spiritual communion with the Divine.
According to the cosmobiologist Ebertin, Saturn-Neptune signatures correlate to “suffering, renunciation and asceticism” as well as “readiness for sacrifice, taking care of others…” In myth, Pholus embodies all of these principles and despite his wild, cave-dwelling ways is a kind and humble soul who suffers at the hands of a cruel twist of fate.
Another way of framing this is by seeing Pholus as a face-off between the densest and most “material” of energies (Saturn) and the most amorphous and nebulous of energies (Neptune) and seeking to develop a common language between them while simultaneously accepting tension and dis-ease as one of the most potent by-products of the pairing. Pholus’ “wildness” and “naturalness” is where his power lies and it is therefore of utmost importance not to “educate” or “civilise” it out of him.
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