Out there amongst the distant planets flies a unique and strange object astronomers call a centaur. It's not quite a planet, not quite an asteroid, not quite a comet. It is the first known object of such a classification and has an erratic orbit unlike any other body, giving it the feeling of a celestial outcast, an alien among more familiar orbiting bodies. Like the Greek immortal centaur Chiron himself, this object does not fit in with its heavenly brethren, but as an astrological symbol we must learn to incorporate Chiron's lessons if we are to transcend our wounds and step up to our roles as healers in the world.
In Greek mythology, Chiron is a gentle centaur, wise, patient and living his life in service to gods and man. As a race centaurs are said to be rowdy and debaucherous, making Chiron's nature at odds with the rest of his race. He was the only immortal centaur but gave his life in exchange for the saving of Prometheus, who was bound to be executed for giving fire to man. While he lived, Chiron was a teacher for a number of great Greek heroes, including Achilles, Asclepius and Hercules. Chiron had unparalleled healing power but could not heal himself when wounded by an arrow poisoned by the blood of a Hydra. Being immortal he remained sick until Zeus agreed to end his earthly life, ascending his soul.
Both the astronomical and mythological qualities inform us on the symbolic nature of Chiron in astrology. Chiron represents our wounds but also represents the path to healing through those wounds. He shows us the way to transcending our victimizations so that our wounds become teachers of empowerment. Ultimately, Chiron teaches us to become the heroes of our lives, and in so doing we ascend beyond our prior limitations.
Where we find Chiron in a person's birth chart will tell us something about the nature of the wounds that person will be dealing with in this life. Typically the wounds represented by Chiron will be reflected by traumas, whether mild or severe, experienced during the person's youth and will continue to impact that person throughout adulthood. Whether that impact is positive or negative, that is, empowering or disempowering, is up to the free will of the individual, whether they choose to work consciously with their wounds or fight against them.
A person with Chiron in Aries, for example, may feel a lack of self worth and may project their wounds onto others. On a physical level Chiron in Aries can indicate trauma to the head and face. As a Chiron in Aries native myself, at age five I was severely attacked by a dog, requiring plastic surgery and 40+ stitches to my face. It has taken many years to unravel the deep effects that attack had on me, and I can now see its place in setting me up for doing the work around transcending the wounds Chiron represents at a deeper level in my chart.
When we finally take a hard look at our unresolved wounds, that is our first step onto the Chiron bridge and we eventually realize it was those very wounds that have held the keys to our healing all along.
Chiron also indicates where in our lives we might feel like an outcast. A person with Chiron in the 7th house may find themselves irrepressibly awkward in relationships, while a person with Chiron in the 11th house may often feel rejected by their friends. These feelings of alienation are naturally tied to the wounds indicated by Chiron. If a child's early close relationships (family, early teachers) are abusive and unstable, then that child will subconsciously carry that memory into future close relationships and react accordingly. This represents a fracturing within the individual, a sense of not being a complete self due to disassociation or soul-loss resulting from their Chironic wounding, which manifests outside the individual as an experience of alienation. Only when the disassociated parts of the individual have been reintegrated do they then find the inclusion they long for.
Astronomically, the orbit of Chiron lies between the planets Saturn and Uranus. Every once in a while Chiron moves past Uranus's orbit, and at certain points Chiron moves close enough to Saturn to have its orbit slightly but permanently altered. We can understand a lot about this symbolism when we look at Chiron as the bridge between Saturn and Uranus: The path from civil obedience to free genius, from being a "cog in the machine" to becoming a hero in the world.
For many, life goes along a path of early life conditioning (Saturn) followed by varying degrees of unpracticed rebelliousness in adolescence (Uranus) that eventually creates a sense of sobering futility that leads to a more conforming adulthood (Saturn again). Where and how we conform varies between individuals, but we must conform on some level if we are to be productive and find stability. Not all conformity is bad, not all rebellion is good, and vice versa. When we experience our first Saturn Return in our late twenties we get a good look at how well the degree of our conformity is serving us and we are given the chance to make choices that alter that conformity. Who do we really want to be in the world? What is our purpose and how well are we living it? Saturn is our teacher and guide (and, if need be, stern disciplinarian) in refining our place in society. However, if, due to not resolving our early life woundings, we are not emotionally secure within ourselves (Saturn's polarity, the Moon) we can begin to conform simply out of our fear of losing our physical security. We can then begin to cling to the conditioning we were raised with, following the path held for us by our parents, teachers or the overall culture. Our uniqueness may thus begin to wither and our higher genius left untapped.
We may alternately go the opposite direction — become more wildly rebellious, bucking the system any way we can. This might include dropping out of school or work, doing a lot of drugs or living like a bohemian without a purpose. This may be our attempt to leap frog our healing, to try and jump straight to our Uranian self realization without first integrating those early life woundings.
In either case, if the process is left to continue for too long it will become inevitable that the wounds represented by Chiron will begin to show up again with increasing difficulty. We may develop chronic anxiety, physical pains or disease, find our relationships souring, or even find life itself losing meaning and any sense of joy. These are conditions that are often triggered by the unresolved wounds within ourselves when we can no longer sustain our avoidance of them. It is then time to take a hard look at what's dogging us, to take our first step onto the Chiron bridge and eventually realize it was those very wounds that have held the keys to our healing all along.
What does "crossing the Chiron bridge" entail? Where does it lead us? Please continue on to part two of this series.
If you would like to know more about the meaning and impact of Chiron in your own chart, please feel free to contact me for a reading.