The Mysterious Chiron

Mythic Astrology Chiron 001
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Astrology in action: in the past week I’ve received a host of emails asking me questions about Chiron. What is chiron all about, and why don’t you use chiron as much or talk about it or include it in your horoscopes as much as the other planets? This is a great question, so for today’s horoscope I’m going to take a minute to discuss my own understanding of Chiron (which I feel, along with the thousands of other newly discovered objects in our solar system, is intellectually and spiritually fascinating and can’t be ignored or dismissed).
Let’s start with this quote from Heraclitus: “The Gods live beyond our meager deaths. We die past their ceaseless living.”

In this koan like text there’s an easy bridge for an understanding of Chiron that walks us right over all the streaming cliches about “wounded healing.” First let’s refresh on the basics about the famous Chiron story that most people use to make the wounded healer claims. Chiron was an immortal and a great teacher, astrologer, sage, and medicine man. He was accidentally wounded with an arrow dipped in the incurable mortal poison of the hydra. He therefore found himself in a precarious position: an immortal with an incurable mortal wound…a recipe for eternal suffering. But rather than suffer eternally, a bargain was struck that allowed Chiron to give up his immortality (so that he can die rather than suffer eternally), in exchange for Prometheus’ release from his torture chamber on the side of the cliff.

The key to this story comes when we dig deeper into what Chiron and Prometheus have in common and what the deeper message of their exchange is all about. Prometheus was chained to the side of the cliff, essentially, for hubris. He had tried to steal the fire from the gods to give to humanity but as a result of his transgression he was punished by the gods day in and day out. Prometheus was a second generational titan…a descendant of the primordial gods, and his fire theft was looked at by Zeus as a direct challenge to his supremacy on Olympus.

Many astrologers have compared the planet Uranus to Prometheus, since Prometheus can be seen as a kind of liberator or revolutionary, as well as a humanitarian, especially in this particular story. So what does an immortal with an incurable mortal wound and a power struggle between Zeus and Prometheus have in common? Put simply: the entire story demonstrates the struggle between the reality of the of the gods versus the reality of the humans, or immortality versus mortality. Though the realms co-exist they are not the same, nor should they be. Chiron’s need for a mortal body to end his otherwise eternal suffering is just the wisdom needed to pay the bill for Prometheus’s hubris. Another way of saying it is that Prometheus’ desire for humans to become more godlike can only go so far before the same problem would arise: eternal mortality…chiron’s incurable wound.

Again the quote from Heraclitus: “The Gods live beyond our meager deaths. We die past their ceaseless living.”

The fact that Chiron’s planetary glyph is shaped like a key, that its orbit weaves in and out of both Saturn and Uranus’ orbit, and that it remains a highly enigmatic birth chart symbol is similar to the wisdom of Heraclitus’ riddle.
The gods are part of our human world, and the knowledge of the gods, even through something like astrology, is part of the enlightenment of humanity. Chiron was a teacher of astrologer and a great oracle, after all. Yet, there are limits that come with being mortal that are somehow just as essential for the life of the gods, or that draw the gods to us as much as we are drawn to them. The chiron myth, more than the simple words “wounded healer,” reflect this mysterious dynamic.

So the question becomes, “how do we read this complicated dynamic in a birth chart?” To me Chiron in our charts isn’t about being a healer and it isn’t about being wounded, not primarily. Rather its about the place where our humanity or mortality is most actively or perhaps “consciously” involved the gods. For some people this dynamic will take the shape of a feeling of nagging limitation and incurable woundedness…the “I’m only human and everything should be divine,” complex. While for others Chiron’s natal placement will take on the opposite extreme, “I’m human and I reject any relationship with the gods.” Still for others the placement of Chiron will simply reflect the easy and flowing relationship between our earthy humanity and divinity. For this reason I believe Chiron makes a good alternate or additional ruler of Virgo, whose archetypal complexities strike me as very similar.

This particular vision of Chiron came to me during an ayahuasca ceremony almost five years ago, and since then I’ve continued pondering Chiron in my practice. As someone born with Chiron on the ascendant, I feel as though I’ve spent a good deal of my life projecting an aura of the extremes I’ve mentioned above. I also feel that as I age I’m learning to accept the deeper wisdom of the god/human dance, and I feel less afflicted by trying to resolve the gap with relentless metaphysical gymnastics or grand unifying theories. Maybe that’s how chiron’s famous healing happens…

Regardless, here’s an example of Chiron interpreted natally so you can try it on and see how it fits in your own chart. This is how I’ve been working with it lately…

* Chiron in the 10th house in Taurus: when your career is kicking and you’re making money and you feel secure and comfortable in the world (Taurus 10th house), then you feel divine or you feel close to the gods (spiritually in touch). When you’re not, then you may feel like a lowly mortal who can’t get it right. Or alternatively, career success is often a way for you to resist the spiritual reality. Yet another possibility is that your career is the most active place where your spiritual interests and your mortal/human nature are in dynamic relationship. You feel most acutely divided between the material and the spiritual in your career, and yet you may also feel most divinely inspired by the dance as well. Chiron in the 10th reflects the particular area of your life where you will attract the attention and involvement of the gods, as well as the area of life where you feel most attracted to them!

Another version of Chiron in the birth chart seems to have something to do with where the gods seek your humanity for the sake of their own healing…just like Chiron needed mortality to alleviate his suffering. In some ways Chiron in our birth chart reflects the saving grace of our humanity..the place where the wounded gods come to us and say, “This is where you just being your simple human self takes all the spiritual pressure off your life.”

For example, Chiron in Gemini in the 7th: your chatty and gossip prone, fun and flighty, nervous and all over the place social life…keep going back there whenever you feel like you’re not godly enough. That pressure you feel to be more than human is sometimes just a sick god, and he needs you to go out and have some fun and chit-chat over a glass of wine with your friends (Gemini in the 7th). He needs your most mortally comfortable self so that he stops suffering from this incurable wound.

These are simple reflections…and I still don’t use Chiron often in readings because these ideas don’t feel fully formed yet (which is also why I don’t use Chiron as much in my daily horoscopes). Though this doesn’t touch on the much broader questions about the appearance of THOUSANDS of asteroids (which I also see as compelling and important), hopefully this is interesting to some of you!

By the way–while struggling with a piece of this post today my thigh (the spot Chiron was shot) cramped up like a vice and I fell out of my desk chair and onto my floor laughing. smile emoticon

Prayer: The gods live beyond our meager deaths. We die past their ceaseless living.

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