Moonlight: Chirotic Wholeness

My barometer for a good movie is when I cry at least three times while watching it--I lost track after five with Moonlight by Barry Jenkins. (Sidenote, his film Medicine for Melancholy is amazing as well and earned one of my coveted/no-one-cares "Three Cry Award" as well.)

Moonlight moved me in ways I couldn’t even understand as it seemed to touch on so many painful points of being human, but in particular the specific flavor of being a specific race and sexual orientation that many of us don't ever have to navigate. The main character struggled with the wound of rejection and yearning for love at the core of the human experience that was so vulnerable and hard to witness.  However, it was the things I couldn’t relate to as a white, heterosexual woman viewing the story of a homosexual man of color that made it even more powerful.

The main character’s name was Chiron (though pronounced “Shy-rone”) and by the end of the film I knew for certain it was an ode to my favorite archetypal, centaur friend Chiron. In the Greek myth of Chiron, he was half-horse and half-man and the son of Saturn, king of the Gods, and the nymph Phyllra. After Chiron's birth Phyllra refused to look at him as she believed he was an eyesore. He was orphaned and then adopted by Apollo (the Sun God) and Artemis who taught him archery. This mirrored the Moonlight Chiron as he was rejected by his mother for being gay, though mostly her own drug addiction and her own pain. He was then somewhat adopted by a man and woman who became his surrogate parents throughout the film providing him basic needs and teaching him skills his addicted mother couldn’t.

In mythology, the Centaurs were considered savages and unrefined, just as culturally communities of color, in particular, the black community, have been portrayed by modern society. Chiron by contrast, was considered more civilized than the centaur but not civilized enough for humans. Whereas in modernity, white culture as being unconsciously (and sometimes not so unconsciously) associated with being more refined or proper.  During the film, as in the myth, Chiron is a loner without a group to belong to and is frequently bullied besides one “friend” whom he shares the most intimate moments of the film and ultimately offers him healing. The three parts of the film each allow a deeper understanding of the pain Chiron suffered and his ultimate transformation into a version of black masculinity where he is unrecognizable even to his dearest friend and lover.

Astrologically Chiron in our chart shows us the places we hold pain and a sense of unlovability. Today, this planet/meteor/comet/asteroid begins moving forward after being in retrograde since June 27, 2016 and will return to its original location before retrograde in March 2017. This phase may offer the ability to more fully move on from the past where Chiron transits our chart. However, this may not be the case with our natal Chiron as I believe it to be the wound we can't get rid of.  In the mythology of Chiron he was immortal and suffered a wound that was so painful he begged Zeus to make him mortal so he could die. 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 ultimately unable to bear.

As humans we are born mortal and must face the pain. Many of us spend our lives avoiding it, though the gifts inherent within the wound give immense meaning to our lives and the capacity to help others.  We can learn more about the nuances of these painful parts and how to work with them through astrology by noticing the sign (the what) and the house (the where/area of life). It isn’t until we “touch” the wound (Chiron comes from Greek kheiro- from Proto-Indo-European ghes - meaning “hand”) that we have access to its elevated expression of healing.

Though to me, Chiron isn't "healed" meaning it goes away, but instead implies a constant reminder that with or without the pain we are whole and perfect. In fact, heal comes from the Proto-Indo-European kailo- "whole." Chiron shows us the ugly places we confront over and over again as our major life lessons not meant to go away, but continue while we walk wounded as perfect, whole spiritual beings and imperfect, flawed humans.

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

chiron key healing

Just as Chiron in the film isn't able to change his painful past, race, or sexual orientation, it is the beautiful part of him that moves me to tears and the part that makes me love him as a character.  I don't believe he will suddenly wake up and feel perfect or healed as the original rejection will stay with him for a lifetime, even while being loved by another. I don't think any amount of therapy or "energy healing" will make it go away. While that may sound pessimistic or masochistic, to me there is an immense beauty in the pain and suffering (though that could be my Pluto talking). What Chiron holds is both personal and collective, and this contributes to the complexity of the archetype itself. Where Chiron is in our chart we must face wounds that are ours and also belong to everyone making it difficult to interact with and differentiate.

In astrology the sign Chiron is in represents the "what" while the house represents the realm of life where we may confront our pain the most. The combination of these two factors can help identify different parts of how and where we feel its impact. Below are some themes of where you may show up based on your chart:

  • 1st house/Aries/Mars: Difficulty asserting oneself, issues around the way you feel perceived or look, sadness around not feeling fullest potential, lack self-confidence or identity, anger issues, health issues related to head
  • 2nd house/Taurus/Venus: Lack of self-worth, financial fears or difficulties, over-dependence  or fear associated with material comfort, issues of sexual abuse or affection, health issues related to throat/thyroid
  • 3rd house/Gemini/Mercury or Athena: Insecurity around intelligence or communication, speech impediments or dyslexia, not feeling heard, education/learning disabilities
  • 4th house/Cancer/Moon: Sadness around family  of origin, feeling orphaned, emotional wounding, abandonment
  • 5th house/Leo/Sun: Difficulty feeling self-expressed or creative, wanting to be center of attention and feeling afraid, shyness, afraid to shine
  • 6th house/Virgo/Mercury: Health feels impossible, analyzing how to feel whole, feeling that work doesn't matter, feel unable to function in day-to-day activities/life
  • 7th house/Libra/Venus or Astraea: Relationships seem to go wrong, difficulty finding oneself in relating to others or romantic partnership, feeling things aren't fair in relationship or you aren't treated well, putting someone else's needs above yours, dependency on others
  • 8th house/Scorpio/Pluto: Lack of meaning in relationships, power dynamics, death, loss, secrecy, manipulation
  • 9th house/Sagittarius/Jupiter: Religious or philosophical ideals wounding,  insecurity about beliefs or ethics
  • 10th House/Capricorn/Saturn: Difficulty  achieving goals, pain around status in society, proving ones worth through work or career
  • 11th house/Aquarius/Uranus: Disconnected from consciousness, taken for granted in group or organization, uniquess or contribution not honored, feel uncomfortable in groups, rejected by groups
  • 12th house/Pisces/Neptune: Feeling irrelevant, feel more connected to universal or divine than humanity, stress or overwhelm, feel at odds with human experience

The themes listed above may show up as shadow elements of your sun or moon, but are often available for deeper healing than the Chiron location. This is the difference between wounds or discomfort, one stays while the other may go away once it comes to consciousness.

I understand now the reason for my tears was witnessing Chiron’s painful rejection by the mother, rejection by others, which ultimately led to the rejection of himself.  While I cannot even pretend to understand Chiron’s pain of being a black man who seems to be uncared for by the collective as well as his own mother, I can relate to feeling unloved or imperfect. Perhaps this is what makes the film so powerful as it bridges the pain of marginalized groups and the collective, just like Chiron. For us to learn and appreciate the beauty and wholeness in the pain and use it as a force for individual and collective healing.