Chiron: Walking Wounded

I can’t remember a day it wasn’t there--this feeling that there was something really, really wrong with me. I’ve spent my life trying to fix it (and others), and not even sure what “it” is. I am a “self-help” junking reading every self-help book, doing therapy, participating in Landmark Education, and oh so much more. I pray for the day (rhyme intentional) when I wake up and feel whole or a better version of myself. A day, when I read fiction books instead of non-fiction in efforts to fix a perceived brokenness.

We all have a wound--a place we have we have experienced losses or feel unlovable. Each of us carry a residue of these grievances. Whatever they are or when they happened, they have become a part of us for better or for worse. While some seem unbothered by their pain, or their wounds covered by compensatory personality traits of the ego or lingering depression, mine seem more surface level and inescapable.  I can’t not explore, poke, and desperately want to heal them.

The goal of Chiron in our natal chart is to educate us about the wounds time won’t heal. It reveals to us how our issues, suffering, and woundedness play out in the drama of our lives. In this way it is often called the “Wounded Healer.” (Though I do love Joyce Mason’s description as “Wounded Healer, Wholeness Weaver.”) Chiron is the ultimate wounded victim and savior/martyr complex as it wants to be rescued and also rescue others. It often a sense of something being missing or broken.

People with prominent Chiron in their chart often have suffered with a major obstacle  such as a mental illness, ongoing self-esteem struggles, or health conditions that require repeated attention. I’ve noticed this pattern in many others with the planetoid (I just love that goofy word) Chiron in strong relationship to someone’s Sun or Moon. As an astrologer with a Sun-Chiron conjunction I have attracted many clients with the same placement in an effort to unconsciously understand it for myself.

Last month in particular each of my clients had a prominent Chiron in their charts. I felt such empathy and understanding for their pain and a sense of relief that there were others who had this same sense of hopelessness about finding their own wholeness. All of these people were healers, which is perfect as Chiron rules acupuncture, astrology, herbalism, and tarot. Being a healer, or “walking wounded” gives us a way to bring healing to our own wounds. (This archetype of healing others is also extremely important part of Chiron's mythology/archetype and an element I hope to explore in future posts.)

"Crawl inside this body, find me where I am most wounded--love me there." ~Rune Lazuli

It’s difficult to resist the destructional nature of the wound and it often manifests itself as a victim mentality. Besides being a healer, here are other Chiron clues and similarities I’ve noticed (thanks to Elizabeth Husserl and Deborah Price for their work around the victim archetype):

  • ·       Blaming their miseries on others or external circumstances
  • ·       Setting up situations designed to get others to do for them what they believe they can’t do for themselves
  • ·       Self-sabotaging and self-abandonment tendencies such as addiction to fill emptiness
  • ·       Suffered a history of abuse, betrayal, loss, or great deal of pain
  • ·       Don’t feel capable or have not been able to process pain/emotions fully so it turns on them
  • ·       Trapped in past because story is safer
  • ·       Unforgiving, angry, resentful
  • ·       Relies on others for validation and approval
  • ·       Sense of entitlement
  • ·       Feeling powerless, living out self-fulfilling prophecy
  • ·       Caretaking as a way to control others
  • ·       Deep fear of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment

Like every planet and archetype Chiron holds the duality of both light (considered more positive) and dark (considered more negative). I've noticed it's more shadow expression show up with Virgo energy and the uplifted archetype with Sagittarius similarities. In this way Chiron is connected to them both. While the above victim complex speaks more the shadow and un-integrated aspects of Chiron, below are some keywords related to its light (this will be more the focus of my next post on Chiron):

  • Healer
  • Weaver
  • Wholeness
  • Teacher
  • Comet/meteor
  • Oracle
  • Herbalist
  • Maverick 
  • Ecologist
  • Inner marriage
  • Shamanism

Etymologically, the word Chiron is from Greek kheiro- from Proto-Indo-European ghes- meaning “hand.” It derives from the same roots as the Greek word for surgeon, kheirourgos. My loose interpretation would be as a “hands-on healer.” Healing in Ancient Greece often involved the power of the gods being transmitted by laying-on of hands by a priest, priestess, or sacred animal. (I also believe in the healing powers of touch.) This healing power (and woundedness) is also reflected in Chiron’s mythology.

As a centaur Chiron was half-horse and half-man. While most centaurs were known for being debaucherous and wild (animal instinct), Chiron was considered more civilized (human) and  didn't fit in. He was a loner and maverick and the son of Saturn (king of the gods) and Phyllra (a nymph). After Chiron's birth Phyllra refused to look at him as she believed he was an eyesore. Chiron was rejected by his own mother and this is expressed very  clearly in the way astrologically  he represents our feeling of being un-loveable. After being rejected he was adopted by Apollo (the Sun God and also wisdom and healing), who became his teacher. Chiron also spent time with Apollo's sister Artemis, the moon goddess and archer, and may have been how he became a skilled archer.

Chiron was an astrologer, oracle, herbalist, and teacher who had many Greek heroes as students including Jason, Achilles, Hercules, Theseus, and even the god Dionsysus. One day he was accidentally wounded by a poisonous arrow of Hercules, and in some versions this poison was from Chiron himself when Hercules was his student. The pain of Chiron’s wound was unbearable and even with all his knowledge of the healing arts, he was unable to cure himself. (At this point in the myth I always wonder if he could have done a mind over matter or if this was truly un-healable.) Since Chiron was immortal and not able to die, Chiron offered himself to replace Prometheus who was being punished and chained to a rock for bringing fire to man.

 "The wound is the place where the Light enters you." ~Rumi

Hercules bargained with Jupiter/Zeus who agreed to release Prometheus if a replacement could be found. Zeus agreed and Chiron replaced Prometheus in exchange for his immortality. Zeus/Jupiter honored and immortalized Chiron for his sacrifice by transforming him into the constellation Sagittarius (though others say it is the constellation Centaurus) for his service to humans. Sagittarius is the constellation that runs through the heart of the Milky Way, in this way Chiron points to the center of our galaxy and is also thought to have arrived somewhere beyond our solar system (more on that in next post).

While this was just a very basic summary, three major "figures" emerge from this mythology (also pointed out by Melanie Reinhart in her book Chiron and the Healing Journey and those of us with prominent Chiron have tended to be all three at one point or another.):

  1. Victim/Wounded one (Rejection from his mother, other Centaurs, and Hercules)
  2. Persecutor/Wounder (I'm still unraveling this one as I explore more of his mythology, but I can glean that those of us with pain also tend to hurt others)
  3. Healer/Savior/Rescuer/Martyr (Taking Prometheus' place and being a guru figure)

Chiron in our chart indicates some of our greatest gifts to share and how we can initiate healing in others.  Unfortunately it may be unknown to us until we confront  our own wound.  For me, and many others, Chiron is in Taurus (between 3/29/1977-6/19/1983) mirrors a wound of neglect. It speaks to an unnamed and unfulfilled void and victimhood around love, self-worth, money, or creativity. The lesson for Chiron in Taurus (or Chiron in relationship to Venus) is about building up self-love and self-esteem and noticing the love that surrounds us all. I believe we came to Earth to love and be loved (though this could be my Chiron in Taurus with my Sun talking) and the more I learn to self-parent and honor myself, the more I am sure I don’t need a savior, parent, or caregiver. My wound is a part of me that I have learned to love and accept (without hopefully becoming overly identified with it and falling into victim mode). These painful points in us then become our lens of empowerment for ourselves and others--it was in Chiron’s suffering and rejection by other centaurs and his own mother that he became the healer he was meant to be. 

"...a good half of every treatment that probes at all deeply consists in the doctor's examining himself...it is his own hurt that gives a measure of his power to heal." ~Jung

Psychologist C.G. Jung created the term "wounded healer" based on the Chiron myth (he had Chiron squaring his sun and opposite Jupiter in his natal chart). He understood that any wound is simultaneously personal and transpersonal (such as the archetypal realm) and therefore a doorway into some sort of higher, divine order. It is this understanding of wounding that creates connection and empathy (as long as we don't become so identified with our pain and believe is solely ours). A study  done in 2006 by British researcher Alison Barr, found that almost 74% of therapists had wounding that lead to their career choice. Jung himself had many painful experiences and has said of the therapist,"...it is his own hurt that gives the measure of his power to heal." 

"The wounded healer IS the archetype of the Self [our wholeness, the God within] and is at the bottom of all genuine healing procedures."~Marie Louise Von Franz

I love the perfect paradox that those who are healers are the "walking wounded." It is the wound that pulls  us into the transformation as without a sense of something being wrong we would not seek out a journey to wholeness in the first place. Often we believe the healing takes place outside of ourselves and want others to help take it away. This was how Chiron became a victim and imperfectly human. He didn't trust his wound and searched for a cure instead of learning to walk with the wound and knowing his intrinsic wholeness (he was immortal after all). His initiation into humanity was the pain, the pain he was unable to bear.

If there is anything I’ve learned, Chiron’s lessons are about walking with (and into) the wound, and not constantly searching for the cure. He teaches us to not just recognize, but accept our wounds as a path to healing. To accept that nothing “out there” that can take them away. I trust the wound as it pulls me into my own transformation every time it shows up. Where ever I am on the healing journey, the wound is my bridge to the divine. As a wounded healer the pain is a reminder of my own dual nature--the fragility of being human and the beauty of being immortal...just like Chiron himself.

(Stay tuned, the next post is about Chiron's link to higher consciousness and how to approach its healing.)