Centaur Spotlight: Nephele

Helios– Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind- Wanting to start again? Do you ever feel so paper thin, like a house of cards- One blow from caving in? Well, Katy Perry (at least her songwriter, anyway!) does, and so does this months’ centaur! In fact, today I bring you… The Mother of All Centaurs!


The Astronomy: 431 Nephele is a large Themistian asteroid. It is spectral C-type and is probably composed of carbonaceous material. It was discovered by Auguste Charlois on December 18, 1897 in Nice. It has an orbital period of 5 years, 205 days and is slightly less than 71 miles in diameter.

The Myth: In Greek mythology, Nephele was a cloud nymph who figured prominently in the story of Phrixus and Helle. Nephele was also the goddess of hospitality. Nephele is the cloud whom Zeus created in the image of Hera to trick Ixion to test his integrity after displaying his lust for Hera during a feast as a guest of Zeus. Ixion failed in restraining his lust for Hera, thus fathering the Centaurs. Nephele married Athamas, but he divorced her for Ino. Phrixus and Helle, the son and daughter of Athamas and Nephele, were hated by their stepmother, Ino. Ino hatched a devious plot to get rid of the twins, roasting all the town’s crop seeds so they would not grow. The local farmers, frightened of famine, asked a nearby oracle for assistance. Ino bribed the men sent to the oracle to lie and tell the others that the oracle required the sacrifice of Phrixus. Before he was killed though, Phrixus and Helle were rescued by a flying golden ram sent by Nephele, their natural mother. Phrixus and Helle were instructed to not look down to Earth for the duration of their flight. Helle, though, did look down, and fell off the ram into the Hellespont (which was named after her, meaning Sea of Helle) and drowned, but Phrixus survived all the way to Colchis, where King Aeetes took him in and treated him kindly, giving Phrixus his daughter, Chalciope, in marriage. In gratitude, Phrixus gave the king the Golden Fleece of the ram, which Aeetes hung in a tree in his kingdom. The Golden Fleece would later be taken by Jason.

Why She Matters: Okay, so what strikes me about Nephele is the amount of non-interaction she gets. What I mean by that is that even in her own myth she is a minor character! Everywhere you look for her, Nephele is nothing more than a foil for someone else. Tool for Zeus, Whore for Ixion, Mother of the Centaurs, Mother and savior of Phrixus and Helle… She is barely present, and that makes sense for a cloud nymph. Held together by the winds alone, and subject to their whims…. Anyone who has been taken advantage of, been used as a bargaining chip for someone else, or seen for nothing beyond their beauty will find a commonality with Nephele. In the chart, she will show up as a place where you are always in the shadow of another, never being able to truly step out and be seen on your own. She can also indicate a sort of fogginess, whether mental or otherwise, that will not clear, though I would see this more in transit. She is also a major point of escapism, and shows where you seek to be free of the roles and obligations that others would seek to place on you. Mark Andrew Holmes adds that ‘Nephele seems to indicate smoke, smog, clouds, “blowing smoke,” smoking, “smoking something,” “in the clouds,” foiled, ruses, deformed brainchildren, “given enough rope to hang oneself.”. ‘

To find out where she shows up in your chart, go to astro.com, put in your birth details and in the extended options, all the way at the bottom of the next page, there will be a menu of additional objects. Under that is a blank space where you can enter the number 431, for Nephele. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Nephele affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!