Toliman (Bungula)

Astronomical designation: Alpha Centauri



Toliman is a powerful star. It is frequently listed under other names – Bungula, or Rijil Kentaurus, or even just Alpha Centauri – and as the last label indicates, it is the chief star of the constellation Centaurus, the Centaur. The name ‘Toliman’ refers to the budding vine-stock branch, sacred to Dionysos (Bacchus), the god of the vine, wine, ecstasy and the ever-renewing life force. Toliman is the closest star to our own Sun, about four light years away.


Toliman enjoys a largely positive tradition, and it is one of the great stars which traditionally offer success and renown. Most of these benefits accrue by using the intellectual abilities and cultural refinements which Toliman bestows, but they may also come via the help of influential friends or mentors. There is also a very earthy, physical side with the Centaur stars; both Toliman and Hadar have a reputation for stirring up the passions. That is a nice way of saying they can raise the libido to levels where people are willing to take risks and do sometimes stupid things in order to get, um, satisfaction. Here is another resonance of Toliman (and Hadar) with the grapevines of Dionysos, whose intoxicating wine aids the release of eros. In this light it is worth considering how the Greeks regarded eros – desire as such – as the driving force of the entire cosmos. Without this cosmic desire, the divine will-to-be, nothing would exist. So wherever there is eros there is huge, driving, creative power. If this power is uncontrolled, it can wreak havoc. But properly channelled, it’s a creative blessing, and can make magic. If Toliman is one of your stars, you cannot help being aware of what you feel and why, and it’s usually proper to honour that. But you do need to exercise some skill with the potentially anarchic and primitive side, so you direct your strong passions only in the service of the good. The skilful harnessing of creative power drives the achievement of great things in the world, and allows you to become some sort of magician in your own right. There is healing power in all the Centaur stars, and healing is ultimately a restoration to wholeness of the ability to create in benign, constructive ways.


A modern kind of creative magician was Walt Disney, who had both yang and yin communication symbols Mercury and Iris aligned here, with imaginative Iris closer. Magic of a different kind was manifested in the work of physicist Werner Heisenberg, born on the same day as Disney and with the same planetary links to Toliman. Michelangelo had the visionary power and charisma of his Neptune super-charged by this star, giving special force to his religious art. First President of the USA George Washington had intuitive, responsive Iris here. Affirmations queen Florence Scovel Shinn had brave active Mars aligned, as did writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, who rallied her fellow citizens to the cause of abolishing slavery. A more modern example can be found with mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot. His very original discoveries in fractal geometry led to the now famous ‘Mandelbrot sets’, and he was born with the creative, life-giving Sun linked to Toliman.

One last point to make about Toliman is that its ecliptic projected position is very close to that of two stars of the new constellation Chamaeleon, the Chameleon. This includes the chief star Alpha Chamaeleontis. I have not yet done any detailed, careful research into the Chameleon stars. However, I am aware of their likely potential to manifest lizard ‘medicine’, to use the terminology of shamanism: energies which are subtle, hardy, able to endure physical (and other) extremes, patient and quiet in repose, but swift and fierce to act when circumstances require it. The famous capacity of chameleons for colour changing and camouflage gives them, symbolically, almost shamanic qualities of adaptation and shape-shifting. Chameleons can pivot their eyes independently and achieve 360-degree vision, but they also have stereoscopic vision when they focus their eyes together. In the light of these possible symbols, metaphors and meanings, and their possible resonances with the stars, it is worth noting that extraordinary artist M.C. Escher, who made so many images with bizarre, optically confusing perspectives and impossible structures, had imaginative, illuminating and optically significant Iris aligned not only with Toliman but more exactly with Alpha Chamaeleontis. Timothy Leary, who pioneered investigations in the controlled use of psychotropic drugs and their mind-altering effects, becoming notorious in the process, had Venus more closely linked to Alpha Chamaeleontis than Toliman. I consider the Chameleon stars are an important area for further research.

This work is Copyrighted: © Kidston, Roderick 2016. Text extracts are from The Magic of the Stars: How the Stars of Astrology Enrich Your Life. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Link to book on Amazon. Note the book does not contain the otherwise unpublished card deck artworks.