Her daughter's palms were cold and clammy, loose under the white-knuckled grip of her own freckled hands. The mother's eyes were trained on the young girl's face, watching beads of sweat pop out of her skin, as her big eyes walked lazily across the ceiling. The fireplace flickered across the room. They sat surrounded by glass bottles of tinctures, elixirs, potions, dried bundles, and small bones. It was almost silent, except for the child's frail breathing, the small crackling of the hearth, and the soft grinding of the medicine man's mortar and pestle.
He took two fingers full of dark paste and spread it across the wound in her arm, where a poisonous arrow had cut the skin. Her mother watched as patiently as she could, her jaw clenched tight and brows drawn together. The girl winced in pain as his fingers bit into the flesh of her arm. Mother instinctively reached out to soothe her, but she fell asleep the moment it took effect. The man wrapped her arm in a layer of soft bandages, and handed her mother a scribbled note.
In the firelight, on his outstretched arm, mother saw the jagged scar that snaked up from his wrist - black, and branching, from palm to shoulder. She slowly took the note and looked at his aging face, into the distinctive icy eyes of the immortal wounded that lived outside their village. "Make sure she gets plenty of water," he sighed, in a raspy voice, "and plenty of rest." Mother pulled a bundle of loose coins from her pocket, but he raised a hand to stop her. "No, no. No payment. But," his scarred hands pet the girl's hair back, "if her eyes change, bring her back to me." He stood, robes rippling down to his bare feet. "I will have to take her in."
The glyph for Chiron (⚷) is a "K" atop an "O", with the "K" standing for Charles Kowel, the astronomer who discovered the planet in 1977. Being a newer symbol, it doesn't follow the traditional structure of other planetary symbols, which can make exact interpretation difficult. One way of looking at it, proposed by Al Morrison, is to see the K as an incomplete X, or cross. A broken cross atop a circle would thereby symbolize a wounding weight over a person, similar to Saturn's symbol, tying in with the "wounded healer" meaning of this planet.
Chiron was discovered fairly recently. It is a small "maverick" - not quite a planet, or a comet, or an asteroid, or a moon, but a small body caught between the gravitational pulls of both Saturn and Uranus. As such, its orbit is quite eccentric, spending on average anywhere from 3 to 7 years in a Sign. Because it is so different from the other planets we use in astrology, it isn't seen as a true planetary body worthy of inclusion in our pantheon. But there are a small number of us who see it as important, who believe it is a significant part of the human personality, who even think it should have Ruled and Exalted positions of its own. And we believe that Chiron has valuable lessons, which stem both of this mythology, and the way it moves between the outer planets.
The myth of Chiron is told differently by different people, but here is what we know: Chiron was a centaur, caught between the wild, erratic, indulgent, and animalistic side of his horse nature, and the civilized, intelligent, wisdom-seeking side of his human nature. He did not belong with the other centaurs, and was not accepted by the humans, so he lived on his own as an immortal demi-god. He was a teacher, a healer, a medicine man, and an astrologer, peaceful, wise, and gentle-hearted. But despite these virtues, he was accidentally struck with a poison arrow. It inflicted him with a terrible, painful illness that he could neither recover nor die from. Ultimately, he sought out the tortured-titan Prometheus and took his place, knowing he was bound to suffer endlessly anyways. Zeus, seeing the centaur's noble sacrifice, freed him from his body and placed his likeness in the stars, where his legend would be immortalized for all the world to see.
Looking at how Chiron moves between Saturn and Uranus, we again see the duality. Chiron bridges the gap between the limitations, fears, and insecurities of Saturn and the revolutionary, rebellious, innovative ideas of Uranus - two opposing energies brought into harmony by this tiny, but powerful, little maverick. In your birth chart, Chiron shows how you take your Saturn-like wounds, fears, and insecurities, toward the Uranian goal of making the world a better place. Thus, Chiron is known as the "wounded healer", who uses one's own pain as inspiration to end the suffering of others.
The immature, difficult, or unhealthy Chiron is a painful part of your chart to deal with. It is a sensitive spot, not unlike a bruise, or a gash, which hurts when you dwell on it. When your mind falls into Chiron, you fall into bad memories of shame and heartbreak. You feel embarrassed about what happened, and sure nobody will love you for it. You are insecure, victimized, weak, vulnerable. You feel inferior, and are hopeless about your future. At times your bitterness and cynicism can lead you to become resentful, furious even. Or it can pull you down into self-pity, where your heart wails out into the dark about all the injustices you've suffered. This Chiron is stuck, unable to heal and unable to die. But frustrating and painful as it may be, it exists for a reason. And it is not to make your life a soft hell.
To free yourself from your suffering you must free somebody else from theirs. Like Chiron freeing Prometheus in the myth, or like Chiron spinning toward Uranus, you need to let your own pain inspire you to help and heal others. This is the healthy, mature side of Chiron, which stops trying to heal its own pain and tries instead to heal someone else's. This is the side of Chiron that is wise, altruistic, patient, and kind. This is how you become a teacher and healer for others, guiding them to enlightenment and empowerment. You may not be able to heal yourself on your own by sheer force of will, like you can with your Saturn fears. But you can cleanse yourself by helping others help themselves, which in return soothes some of the pain you feel in this area of your life.
RULERSHIP AND EXALTATION
Since Chiron was only just discovered a few decades ago, and since it is not a true planet, it has no official Ruled or Exalted placements at this time. For those of us who think it should, there is some debate over who should have dominion over this little maverick. Most think Sagittarius fits the bills perfectly, since the centaur symbols go together so perfectly. Others think Virgo, since it is a nursing, healing Sign fraught with its own imperfections and insecurities. A small number of us think Libra, though not many. But I am one of those few. I believe Chiron should be Ruled by Libra and Exalted in Sagittarius - and the more I think about it, the more I believe it to be true.
Libra is a Sign of balance, harmony, equality, fairness, duality, justice, and above all, relationships. There is a relationship aspect to Chiron's nature, both in how it moves between two other planets (not on its own around the sun, as others do), and in how it seeks out the company of another on an inward journey to healing itself. The air-side of Chiron wants to come together with another person so you can heal one another through the mirror of a relationship. The Sagittarius, or fire-side, of Chiron, on the other hand, is brighter, happier, and more enthusiastic. It sets other people free to be themselves by loving and supporting them in a very fiery way, unchaining them from the doubt, pain, and insecurity their own Chiron inflicts them with. Both of these Signs are interested in law, art, history, relationships, and culture, since both seek to understand the world in an effort to understand themselves.
Therefore, Chiron would be in Detriment in Aries and in Fall in Gemini. Aries is confident, with a large ego and the drive to see their dreams through to the end. Chiron is uncomfortable here, as it deflates the strength and egotism of Aries until it becomes a meek little lamb. As a sign unable to admit weakness or show vulnerability, they keep their guard up and fail to relate to the people they need to help. In Gemini, Chiron gives one much shyness, insecurity, and social anxiety, preventing them from forming the very relationships they need in order to heal others and overcome their wounds. In both these Signs, the negative qualities of Chiron are more readily seen and harder to overcome. Both need to open up to others in order to gain the sort of closeness they need to help, heal, and teach them. Without that, the wounds remain, in both themselves and others, and the world remains a sadder place for it.
SATURN THROUGH THE SIGNS
CHIRON IN ARIES is in its Detriment position. Some with this placement become hyper-rebellious, violent, and destructive. Others become overly obedient and submissive, not wanting to make waves or draw attention to themselves. Both polar-opposite manifestations are responses to feeling scared, weak, vulnerable, insecure, and dependent on others. On a deeper level these are symptoms of not having a strong identity and needing to be constantly validated by other people. Empowering others is the only way you can free yourself. Tell others to be aggressive when pursuing their goals and to never settle for anything less than exactly what they want. Tell them to accept their anger, their powerful sex drives, and to life their own life regardless of what other people think. Give people permission to have parts of themselves that are selfish, sexual, aggressive, and brave - and, in doing so, help yourself be these things too.
CHIRON IN TAURUS means may feel as though you were not valued, and so as you grow older you become more insecure, quiet, and reserved as a result. No matter your upbringing, you never had enough of anything – you weren’t supported enough, you weren’t shown enough love, you were not held and comforted enough, and you never felt safe and grounded in the material world. You worry that your body is not healthy or attractive enough. You worry that you aren’t making enough money, that you don’t have a stable long-term job, or that your home is not permanent enough. At your very core you have low-self esteem and problems with anxiety. You need to help other people overcome their fears related to missing value and insecurity. When you love and accept these faults and fears in other people, you will get permission to love and value yourself as well. And in a roundabout kind of way, helping other people is the way to transform yourself and do away with those wounds you suffered from before.
CHIRON IN GEMINI is in its Fall position. For some the wound lies in bad social circles, false friendships, and being the victim of gossip and backstabbing at the hands of those they trusted. In others it becomes insecurity about one’s intelligence, stemming from early difficulties in learning and communicating information. Linked to that, in some cases, is the third wound of an inability to focus, no matter how hard they try. You have had difficulties and setbacks in your friendships and relationships that have left you seriously doubting whether you deserve to be loved by your friends and your lovers. You have, in turned, had a hard time trying to absorb information and communicate it back out when you engage yourself socially. But they are not reasons to give up; if anything, they are reasons to move forward. You possess enormous potential once you learn to use your hurt for the betterment of all people. In healing others you will transform yourself into not only a better person, but a person who does not fear their pain anymore. And all of it – all of it – begins with you opening up and speaking a few heartfelt words.
CHIRON IN CANCER creates a wound in your early nurturing and emotional security as a child. The bond with one or both parents was never very strong; they may have been emotionally distant from you, not available due to work or other obligations, insistent on your obedience or perfection, favoring another family member, or you may have simply felt as though they never loved you at all. The result is that you want to be emotional, sensitive, and a nurturing figure yourself, but you are afraid to engage in that part of yourself due to fears stemming from the broken relationships in your family. When you love and nurture another you give them that which you yourself were deprived of. You have a motherly spirit that wants to reach out to children, pets, and those in need. And letting that side of you shine by taking care of those who want a warm parent-figure can help you enormously.
CHIRON IN LEO wounds have to do with the ego and feeling special, creative, unique, or loved. Perhaps you feel like your art is never good enough to show anybody. Or maybe you pursue any kind of performance with over-prepared, quieted caution. Because you have stifled your ego so as not to make it look too large, you lack everything a healthy ego contains – self assuredness, confidence, and feeling like you deserve something. But you are nevertheless there for others on their own journey. You would be scared to death of an audition, but you would support somebody else through theirs. By working with them you can enter your fear/desire combination indirectly and work through it by helping somebody else. You may not become fun and lighthearted until you have children or creative peers, as those are the kinds of relationships that force you to adopt a more Leo-like way of being. But if you know a lot of creative talents or if you associate with enough people too shy to speak up for themselves, you will encounter more opportunities to work through these challenges.
CHIRON IN VIRGO makes you overly critical of yourself – more critical than anybody else is. And that in itself can lead you to fixate on your body, your health, your behaviour, and how you are perceived by others. It may feel as though all the pressure on you to behave perfectly is coming from the outside. But in reality, it all comes from within. You are trapped inside your own mind, struggling against the thoughts and compulsions that drive you. And in order to end your suffering, you too must empower another person and transform yourself in the process. By dedicating yourself to helping others see themselves more positively, you will remedy the way you view yourself, and in time you may allow yourself to engage in some of those desires you had given up before. You can help others improve themselves and their lives, leading them to become more confident individuals. The only way to take things back from fear is this roundabout way of helping others first.
CHIRON IN LIBRA is in its Ruled position. Your wounds deal in intelligence, partnership, and beauty. It is within the realm of partnership that your wounds are most apparent, revealing themselves through passively playing the victim, shrinking down to avoid conflict, blaming the other person for problems that arise, and becoming defensive during confrontation. Then you project all your Libra fears and feelings onto your partner so that you may “heal” them accordingly. You think you are healing another person that believes they are not smart, beautiful, or nice, when really you are healing yourself. Later on you will come to recognize how the problems you encounter with others are more or less a direct result of you projecting your own feelings of inadequacy onto them. You can then encourage them to learn and communicate their knowledge, to voice their point of view without being afraid of being “judgemental”. And you can tell them, repeatedly, about how beautiful they are from the inside out. Once you can do this for other people you can begin to do it for yourself. Relationships, ultimately, are your catalyst for change.
CHIRON IN SCORPIO wounds can be terrible, traumatizing things. You seem almost destined to a life of victimhood, which births deep trust issues and themes of emotional control. Abuse, exploitation, abandonment, destruction, death, and inhibited sexuality are all possibilities here. You wish to be wholly emotional, but you are so sensitive to pain and the feelings of others that you are afraid of what will happen if you let down your emotional walls. There is only one way you can free yourself from your passive suffering. And that is to empower somebody else. Encourage others to be passionate, aggressive, obsessive, emotional, and sexual. Allow them to seize the power and control they desire, and show them how to use it best. When you can accept that humans are inherently sexual, and that you are as well, you can begin to open yourself up to a more varied and interesting sex life of your own.
CHIRON IN SAGITTARIUS is in its Exalted position. You are insecure in your beliefs because they are not authentically your own, yet you feel you cannot change them. When you do decide to go down another path you do so uneasily and often mistrust your own instincts and turn back around. The real wound at the heart of this is that you do not believe in yourself. You may look at others who freely explore their own religious and spiritual beliefs; who travel around the world with no fear; who can do whatever they like because they are not inhibited by other people. You want that. But that is not something that you can undo on your own. While holding yourself back you encourage others forward, using your own pain to inspire yourself to help others. That is the teacher and healer in you. While you will not heal yourself, the act of helping others will melt away the soreness. And eventually you will find you have overcome those obstacles you faced early, opening yourself up to being louder and more honest with other people. When your students go on to do great things your heart will be warmed as they run away. And perhaps, one day, you will run there too.
CHIRON IN CAPRICORN means that you are suffering from wounds relating to your ambitions, need to impress others, and personal failure. You are caught up in a web of fear so tangled that every action only deepens your wounds more. You want to be ambitious, but you harbour feelings of unworthiness and uncertainty that force you to question every decision you make. You want to make money and own things that are impressive to others, yet you seldom achieve them because you do not pursue anything totally. You will only rid yourself of this wound when you empower other people to be ambitious, hard working, goal-oriented, and an image of self-reliance. Even as you struggle with your own fears, you still encourage others to be grounded in the routine, practical realities of the material world. Through teaching others to manifest the Capricorn sign, you can being to love and accept those same traits inside of yourself. And once you begin to do that, you will find yourself also freed from your Chiron wound, finding success because you earned it.
CHIRON IN AQUARIUS wounds deal with issues surrounding your individuality, outside society, and all your radical ideas. You have broad-minded, revolutionary ideas rooted deeply in science and humanitarian beliefs, but you realize how bizarre and “weird” they are to other people. Despite your desire to create a better society, you always feel perpetually at odds with other people. You have radical ideas about the true nature of society and what a utopia would look like – so radical, in fact, that your ideas are considered to be way ahead of your time. By giving other people permission to be unique despite protests from popular culture, you can being to accept your own weirdness as well. Furthermore, by enacting positive change in the world that bind with your ideas (humanitarianism, politics, technology, environmentalism, social work, and so on) you can use your influence to create that better society you have always wanted. Challenge what people considers “normal” and embrace all that is odd – in others, as well as within yourself.
CHIRON IN PISCES can have its roots in all levels and kinds of personal and existential pain, from your own wounds to that of others an entire world away. Your own wounds may come from events outside of your control that struck you down unjustly; abuse, neglect, death, disease, trauma, or the witnessing of some horror. Or you may simply be so sensitive to pain that you absorbed the suffering of others as your own. The results are feelings of inadequacy, victimization, self pity, and the desire to escape from your own pain while alleviating the suffering of others. The only answer comes through loving and empowering other people to help themselves, functioning as both a healer and a teacher to guide them through their troubled times. When you can selflessly love others, you can begin to love and respect yourself. In time you will understand exactly how much power you are capable of holding on your own! You may even become a symbol – placed in the stars.
Chiron has lessons just like Saturn and Jupiter do. These inter-generational planets are all about the unique messages we have to teach the world. Jupiter holds out natural talents, the things we just "know" and happen to be good at, which we want to show the world how to do. Saturn is what we struggle with, what we've learned through hard experiences, and the wisdom we have to share. Chiron, finally, are the things we struggle with the most, which are the most painful and the most difficult. But it is gentle and understanding, and seeks to heal and teach through selfless altruism.