A Cool Chiron Return Romance

I knew the artist Francoise Gilot spent her 20s with the perma-famous artist Picasso. I did not know that she later enjoyed the most fabulous and far more enduring romance with Jonas Salk, the virologist best known for inventing the polio vaccine.

He was a multiple Scorpio – Sun, Ascendant, Mars, and Mercury – with the classic scientist-genius signature of Jupiter conjunct Uranus in Aquarius. Gilot is a Saggo – now nearly 100 and on her 2nd Chiron Return, she still paints every day, first thing in the morning. She does it in her pajamas and slippers and talks in terms of chasing the ‘bird of doubt’ from her shoulder.

Reason is no friend to the artist,” she says.  Well, yes.

Yet imagine if your name was forever yoked with that of your first partner, someone you’d left decades ago under harrowing circumstances and that that person was the only topic most people wanted to discuss with you.

Romantically, the artist Francoise Gilot is forever referred to as “Picasso’s Muse” or “the lover of Picasso.” Yes, she was with him for ten years from the age of 21 and they had two children together. But she left the man who said there were only two types of women – “goddess and doormats” – despite his threats.*

Years later, a successful artist and on the verge of Chiron Return, she met Jonas Salk, who had just completed his Chiron Return. “There was no way to find out who bewitched whom,” she said later. “All I know is that a powerful whirlwind was blowing.”

Interestingly, both were lovers of solitude, fulfilled as single people and super-zealously immersed in their life’s work.

Nonetheless, Salk proposed to her with the pitch that “even if we’re not so happy, at least we’ll be like a citadel; we’ll be a fortress for each other.”

Françoise thought about it. Both felt exhausted by the world and sought a refuge. “In that case, let’s try,” she replied. Gilot was 48, an artist, a determined free spirit. Salk was 55, a scientist, averse to conflict. They would live half the year almost 6,000 miles apart. “All our friends on both sides predicted impending doom,” Gilot recalled.

But there was no doom, just a lot of tut-tutting. They were married in 1970 and were happily together – albeit spending half the year apart from one another – until Salk passed in 1995.

Synastry-wise, both have the Moon conjunct their North Nodes, her Venus-Mercury in Scorpio was conjunct his Scorpio stellium and her Saturn was conjunct his Sun.  In the month that they met, neither seeking a relationship, Pluto was crossing Francoise Gilot’s Ascendant and Uranus was conjunct Jonas Salk’s Sun.

Affinities sparked during Outer Planet transits always have extra heft and magic to them. But there is something so cool about a Chiron Return romance deliberately negotiated as a ‘fortress and refuge’ for two such ardent individualists.


*An example of one of Picasso’s many threats to this woman will serve as testament to why it’s so weird and wrong to constantly mention her in connection to him. “If you attempt to take a step outside my reality—which has become yours, in as much as I found you when you were young and unformed and I burned everything around you—you’re headed straight for the desert.

Images: Francoise Gilot with Jonas Salk – photographer unknown 

Venus – Francoise Gilot

49 thoughts on “A Cool Chiron Return Romance”

  1. Thanks, Mystic, for another good read on so many levels. Inspired by her art, way of living, and her relationship. Oh, and check out her quote on her relationship with Picasso – “a catastrophe I didn’t want to avoid”. How that resonates. Now it’s time to get up and make some art in my PJs! x

  2. I adored seeing The Surrealism exhibition in the 90’s as a high school student getting up close to the real works. It still feeds my soul and I’m someone that the security staff ask me to step back. I’m wanting to see the light against the brushstrokes and the dance of light casting shadows from myself onto the artwork. Life as an installation. Creativity is about seeing the art within and around and the communication can be made by any medium.

    What stands out for me here and thank you MM. The Picasso quote at the end, it’s the language of domestic violence. I am glad she found her refuge of love and got to find someone that understand and supported her and likewise for him. It seems like an ideal collaboration. I adore the top photograph the power of love and mutually beneficial experiences in life. The common building blocks to their relationship was modern architecture.

  3. Wondering how much my life and outlook could change if i were able to paint in my pyjamas and beautiful slippers each morning.

    Get up so early but it’s all laundry and bed making and banking and cooking and … rushing off to early starting work.

  4. I wonder what she said to Pablo Ruiz? I shall make myself into a beautiful cactus. Picasso was also a Scorpio and his 10th H Taurus is a Stellium including Chiron. Enough of him. She is my inspiration, painting twice a day at nearly 100!

  5. I’ve always been skeptical of these types of relationships. Let’s call them ‘arrangements’. I look at that photo and I see him totally mesmerized, not so much her.
    Actually I can’t help thinking he’s Larry David in a scene from Curb your Enthusiasm. Larry meets the ex of Picasso and asks her back to his place to see his etchings…

    1. I disagree! If your work is super absorbing and you value that solitude and you’ve also experienced the souring of a long-time live-together relationship, it makes total sense that you would want a structure with built-in space. Societal conditioning is huge and so many of our ‘settings’ are out-dated.

      1. I said skeptical, not against this type of arrangement. In many ways it goes back to a system of marriage that existed for many thousands of years. Anagreement to support / protect / etc. one that has been more recently replaced by the idea that marriage is a relationship based on a romantic / Endless love connection,
        I agree with you in that it’s a more mature sensible approach that gives support while allowing the free time required to not smother.
        One day I’ll be sensible and mature but it might not happen till my next life.

      2. It’s still very Haute Aries. And not that you aren’t that. I’m thinking of the one i know. This is the arrangement offered with complete generosity and authenticity of heart. As that Aries says, ” It is what it is.” And yours is exactly what it is, too: authentic, forcefelt, wondering and open. Always real.

      3. I’m becoming more attracted to this kind of relationship as I get older. I used to have this exact opinion and then I’ve been through this strange period of being so disenchanted with passion and anything romantic or even sexual that it almost feels like E numbers/ sugar/ alcoholic buzz or something to do with marketing and the more traditional concept of the arranged marriage (as in chosen for its potential for security and longevity potential feels more liberating.
        I blame Saturn in Capricorn.

      4. My mother often said to me: the best type of relationship is to live nearby, visit often, and I wish I’d listened to her.

        There’s plenty of studies which show how marriage and de-facto relationships (which are almost universally cohabitating) are more beneficial to men than women….

    2. Oh so glad i was not being weird seeing him as Larry David! In a Scorpio Stellium’s case, perhaps Curbing One’s “Enthusiasm” without dampening it, with a Sagittarian 😀 lover, was or is an amazing love thing that carries the heart into other realms of life just beautifully. Space, wildness, authenticity and the art of one’s passions, routine and private life ❤

  6. Wonderful story. I’m going through Chiron return now with energising results (its conjunct my Aries MC and Eris in the 10th (And thanks to Mars transit) Love that Francois is still painting every day, we could all be doing something similar as an act of power, creativity is true power is it not.

  7. I love this and their synastry so much.
    I reconnected with a teenage boyfriend as we’re both going into our Chiron Returns. This resonates. It is undoubtedly my favourite relationship. I can’t describe it in the English or any other language. 💖

  8. Lux Interior Is My Co-Pilot

    I love this. Chiron return sounds so much cooler than “late 40s and early 50s”. ” It’s like cracking your own code.”

  9. I love seeing unconventional relationships that work. And what a great pair. Had to look into it more and found this –

    When asked in an interview how she had ended up with two of history’s most powerful men, Gilot replied: “Lions mate with lions.”

      1. Wonder how i did. Uh, wait, was trained to, cos cool and amazing people can still be douches, non?

  10. Picasso was wrong, she was a threat. Unfortunately the male dominated art world stood by his art and not hers. ❤️ She’s the victor here.

  11. “even if we’re not so happy, at least we’ll be like a citadel; we’ll be a fortress for each other” holy wow. Most guys I meet can barely muster a “wyd”.

    1. At the same time they were vaccinating against wild polio to “eradicate” it, they created vaccine-derived polio instead, which is affecting thousands of healthy children in 16 African countries.

      1. There is definitely an interesting discussion to be had about big-pharma, colonialism, preventative medicine, epidemiology, immunization policies and history etc but this post is not so much about that.

      2. I looked into this the figures go a bit like this
        Previous to vaccination 75000 cases per annum
        Now, cases caused by vaccination 175 per annum
        Make of that what you will.

      3. As Mystic Medusa points out, this is a huge topic – as it always is where ethics meet greed.
        In reply to your figures, there is a lot more to it than those figures reveal – the point being that now they are re-vaccinating children in the developing world against the virus they introduced in order to eradicate the wild polio virus. Mad, no?
        How many rounds of vaccines will that take – seeing that it is a live virus they are vaccinating these children with.
        While in the West they vaccinate people using an injectable solution of the inactivated virus – in the developing world they use an oral polio vaccine (much cheaper) but which contains a live, attenuated virus. This virus can mutate and become pathogenic.
        Cutting costs is never a good idea (unless you are profiteering).

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *