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Astrology (Beyond the) Basics – An Overview of Chiron: Wisdom in Grief

'The Education of Achilles by Chiron' fresco from Herculaneum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples).
‘The Education of Achilles by Chiron’ fresco from Herculaneum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples).

“Wounded healer”, “maverick”, “shaman”: if you’re reading this site, chances are you have already stumbled upon at least one of these definitions in association with Chiron, the asteroid/comet named after the wise centaur of Greek mythology. While the astrological Chiron does typically mark the presence of a sore, vulnerable spot within the psyche/soul, we aren’t helpless in the face of our primal wounds: the root of our atavistic hurt is also where we can distill our existential wisdom from, in order to heal ourselves and others.  
The astronomical birth of Chiron into the collective consciousness occurred on October 18th, 1977, when the celestial body was discovered by the American astronomer Charles Thomas Kowal, who found its orbit to be highly eccentric, with the perihelion inside the orbit of Saturn and aphelion outside the perihelion of Uranus. Because of these unusual characteristics, “maverick” was the first keyword associated with the newly discovered astronomical object: with a highly elliptical 51-year orbit, initially called an asteroid, Chiron was later found to exhibit behavior typical of a comet. We find the same interstitial, multifaceted quality in the mythological portrait of Chiron, embodying a combination of Saturnine mentoring traits, and Uranian eccentricity. He belonged to the tribe of the Centaurs, a tribe of half-horse men; yet, he stood out among his crass and uncultured brethren for his civilized disposition, superior skills and youth-nurturing role. He was, indeed, a maverick: an outsider in regards to his own tribe, he was highly revered by humans, but obviously unable to blend in with human society, because of his equine physical appearance.
Chiron’s hybrid looks are also linked with his earliest wound: his bodily form came about because his father, Kronos (none other than the Greek counterpart of Saturn), changed himself into a stallion while trying to violate Chiron’s mother, the beautiful sea-nymph Philyra. The nymph, horrified of giving birth to such a creature, abandoned Chiron at birth, imploring the gods to change her form as she could not bear the repulsive shape of her offspring; thus, she was accordingly metamorphosed into a linden tree. Born of violence and shame, Chiron deals with the stigma of rejection and abandonment since birth; he therefore reflects this energy, either in a symbolic or literal way, when working as an astrological force. Whether or not its placement in the chart refers to a similar circumstance of abandonment, Chiron condenses the feelings of frailty, inadequacy and inferiority that stem from a trauma that inflicts a basic existential deficiency.
Says astrologer Julie Demboski in her book Chiron in the Natal Chart:

This lack of symbolic parenting in the Chirotic arena points out the way the Chiron sensitivity feels from within the individual: as if one has received absolutely no guidance in these matters, as if there has never been anyone or anything that would alleviate the pain, or to which one could turn for assistance or relief. This is an important point to understand; it explains what makes the Chirotic wound so potent and so difficult to heal.

As we have seen, however, such lack of symbolic parenting is brilliantly overcome by Chiron himself, who came to be held as the superlative centaur. He acquired notable skills in medicine, music, astrology, prophecy and combat arts, and historic sources tell us that, as early as the 7th century B.C., he was regarded as the iconic preceptor of young heroes; Achilles, Herakles, Jason and Actaeon were some of the many heroic pupils whom Chiron trained. In his work Ars Amatoria (2 A. D.), Roman poet Ovid emphasizes the hunt as the paradigm for didacticism that enabled Chiron to train and civilize the unruly Achilles; in the context of ancient Greek and Roman culture, the hunt’s central purpose was to subdue the wild – both externally and internally – in order to achieve a higher state of being. The same process led Chiron to transcend both his savage, violent Centaur nature and his parents’ legacy of shame and neglect, allowing him to attain the revered status of teacher, healer and mentor. Like Chiron, we’re required to tame the beastly, primal nature of our deepest pain in order to access its gifts (and to share said gifts with others as our unique contribution to the collective evolution of humanity). For us, non-mythological beings living in a post-modern world, this equals to get past the – normal, and legitimate – stages where the raw, visceral experience of suffering elicits instinctual reactions of denial, bitterness, fury, self-victimization, defensiveness and depression, and accept pain as a precious guide in our quest for understanding.
However, not Chiron’s wisdom, nor his immortality, spared him from his final tragedy: accidentally hit in the thigh (or in the foot, depending on the version of the tale) by one of Heracles’ poisoned arrows during an assault, Chiron failed to cure himself. The atrocious pain of the incurable, festering wound was unbearable to the point of make him beg for death. He thus gave up his immortal condition, and Zeus (Jupiter), taking pity on him, granted him a place among the constellations.
Chiron’s death is a casualty: he was not taking sides in the battle, and the arrow which hit him was aimed at another Centaur. The Chirotic wound, signaled by Chiron’s placement by sign and house in our Chart, is nearly always accompanied by the feeling of being victims of a gratuitous cruelty, for reasons unbeknownst to us; we feel that life has been unfair to us, and that we did nothing to deserve our fate. And yet, moving beyond self-blaming and scapegoating, rising above this state of unfairness, we become able to transcend ordinary perception and turn our attention towards the cosmic patterns beyond our personal pain. This acceptance of our own spiritual, emotional or physical injury thus creates a space of empathy and openness: not only we’re able to share our therapeutic gifts with the world, but we also feel free to accept the healing gifts offered by others.

Comments (9)

  • Really lovely article. I could feel deeply throught the reading my natal chiron connection, as i could set it free. Thanks bella!

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    • Thankyou for your kind comment, Leslie, I’m very glad you enjoyed the article. <3 Grazie!!

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  • I have often thought about the sentence “We study our wound” in regards to Chiron.

    For me I know that’s true, at least partly, since he resides in my 3rd house and my master thesis is in Communications. Also, for me, words sometimes hits as hard as any violence, and not suprisingly, my dad was very verbally abusive when I grew up (Well, Saturn in 8th house… what can you expect).
    My deepest scars stems from things someone lashed out in anger at me.

    Also, Chiron resides in Taurus, which is a double dose when my BF (who is a stellium Taurus – amongst them Mercury) is angry and says hurtful things to me. But even though he can hurt me so deeply his words can also make me forgive him right on the spot. I can’t decide whether this is healthy or not – but do I have a choice when so much in me is able to understand why he said it? That must be the other gift of Chiron I assume.

    Chiron can be a hard fellow in my experience. Of course I have trouble expressing myself and when others interrupt me, don’t let me speak till I’m finished or other such things, I get really annoyed. My boyfriend’s “Taurish” nature really grate on my nerves sometimes, also because his Chiron lies directly on mine (there are only 6 months between us).
    It’s a double dose of Chiron energy!

    My boyfriend also studies his wound. Or, so I would say, because his Chiron is located in the 12th. house.

    Others who have had the same thoughts as me???

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    • That is interesting, Anette! I do think it becomes necessary, at some point, to get educated about your own Chirotic experience since it’s such an important (and potentially self-defeating) part of your life, WHETHER or not this education follows a “formal” path – I have Chiron in 12th, in Cancer, and at some point I had to educate myself about attachment theory, abandonment issues in BPD (I have BPD myself), parental neglecting, all of the stuff that is associated with this Chiron placement. This didn’t happen in a formal way though, because my field at University is Cultural Anthropology/Indology… it did all start when I entered a relationship with a person that was pursuing a BA in Psychology, years ago; he “instructed” me a bit about the studies in these fields. I would probably have chosen Psychology though if my path didn’t take me to the study of Anthropology. But I think you’re right, we must or should “study our Chiron”, either way.

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      • I always laugh when my boyfriend smiles and say that between him and I, I should have been the psychiatrist. He is of the cognitive school, and I am (in his opionion) the one doing the psycho-dynamic kind of thing, even without knowing it, he says.
        Well, if that include him pouring out his scars to me within a week of meeting I guess he’s right. (He has sun-moon-mercury stellium + chiron in 12th house too) Many people always seem a little bit intimidated by me… like they are uncomfortable around me. Apparently I stir a lot of “desires” or uncomfortable urges/truths in them they aren’t used to. Or something along those lines…

        But really – what can you expect from a girl with 4 planets in Scorpio (including the sun and mercury) – and the three of them forming a Stellium in 9th house???
        Also – with a moon and Pluto buried deep in the 8th house???
        I’m as “Scorpio-ish” as they come I guess 😉
        I come into people’s life and transform it to the better, helping them finding their own power by simply believing in their potential. Typical Scorpio I guess?!

        …Maybe he’s right. Maybe I *should* become a psychiatrist. Well… I certainly seem to have the healing power since my chiron is also in Taurus (self worth). Maybe when I get old… :p

        My life has been “Plutonian” in such a deep way already that I don’t even think it can ever be more Scorio-ish/tranformative… but hey, Pluto know how to pick his sheep… So I guess he will never rest with me here, he he! :p

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  • Oups, forgot to say that he studied psychology 😉

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  • Happy to find this artice. Chiron is about to station direction on my 16-17 Mercury R Pisces in 2nd house. I was simply living in my house when City of Philadelphia corruption dug up chemcially contaminated site next to my house and made be very ill when Pluto was conj my natal Mars/ GC . Instead of responding with assisting me, the entire city politic turn on me with vicious criminal retaliation. I nearly died and now still ill and traumatized. Gratefully my family finally figured out I was not in good shape and moved me back to CA. I will never be the same. The injuries and crimes and cruelity is outstanding and the cruelty. I was simply living in my home. I’m confused about the directions to take to heal and rebuild my life.

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  • A beautifully written and wonderfully clear deconstruction of Chiron and its role in our chart.

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  • […] that was the case, Chiron would stand still. […]

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