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CHIRON ~ An Overview
by Candy Hillenbrand
I have been working with Chiron since 1985 when I first discovered that it occupied the same degree as my natal Moon. How could I ignore it? I have since devoured everything I could find on the subject. For me, it has been important to survey all the available literature, as well as observing Chiron in my own chart and in the charts of others.
For years I could find little information on this curious planetoid/asteroid/comet and had to make do with a small pamphlet by Zane Stein called "Interpreting Chiron" until Barbara Hand Clow's and Melanie Reinhart's books appeared in 1987 and 1989 respectively. I found Clow's book totally fascinating at first read, but over time have found Reinhart's book to be the most useful in my own work.
Richard Nolle has also written an excellent book on Chiron subtitled "The Key to your Quest" and Zane Stein's website on the internet is a great place to visit for those interested in Chiron. Joyce Mason from California has also contributed much to my understanding of Chiron. For a number of years she co-edited a Newsletter devoted to all matters Chironic called "Chironicles". Chironicles has now ceased publication but back editions and bound volumes are still available.
More recently, well-known English astrologer and psychotherapist, Liz Greene, has begun incorporating Chiron in her work, and some of her very astute insights can be found in her co-authored books with Howard Sasportas: "The Luminaries" and "The Inner Planets" and her own books: "The Astrological Neptune and the Quest for Redemption", and "Barriers and Boundaries - The Horoscope and the Defences of the Personality".
Archetypal Chiron Meanings and Keywords
There are a number of archetypal meanings for Chiron. I don't find any of these contradictory but rather representative of the different faces of Chiron. As a healer, I have particularly resonated with the Wounded Healer archetype. I first became interested in healing in 1977 at the precise time of Chiron's discovery. Before I even knew about Chiron, I felt drawn towards emotional healing, in particular flower essence healing. My exact Moon (emotional) Chiron (healing) conjunction is an apt metaphor for this interest. My personal approach to astrology is also therapeutic. I have always been interested in combining the modalities of astrology and healing and looking at the birth chart from a healing perspective. My Moon/Chiron is in Aquarius and exactly opposes Uranus. I have learned much about Chiron through observing it in my own chart.
Not surprisingly, many of my clients are also interested in healing and often feel wounded in some deep way. I think it is a truism that we attract those to us who most resonate with what we have to offer. In this respect, I am well aware that my own approach to Chiron may be a rather subjective one and limited by the experiences and stories of my own clients.
Overall, I have found that the natal placement of Chiron often points to an area of life where we feel a sense of wounding. Some examples: with Sun/Chiron aspects I have seen women who felt wounded by their fathers; with Moon/Chiron, a sense of being wounded by the mother or experiencing the wounding of the mother by another, a sense of empathising with the mother's pain. I think 'wounding' is a very general term and covers all sorts of experiences of rejection, abandonment, deprivation, emotional pain, inner suffering, loss, and so on.
One client with Chiron in 5th opposite the Sun (and Leo rising) felt that her creative self was wounded. She grew up in a very Victorian and 'religious' household (Chiron in Sagittarius) where fun and play were frowned upon. As an adult she has sought to develop her creativity in many and varied ways. She is a healer, counsellor and teacher who has worked with disturbed children (5th) using art therapy as her primary modality. She teaches people to contact their own inner voice through creative writing and art, and a big focus in her classes is on having fun and accessing one's own creativity. She believes everyone is creative.
This example serves to demonstrate an important facet of Chiron - where we feel wounded is where we seek healing, and from this place is also where we seek to help or heal others. It is here that we pass on what we have learned from our own painful experiences. It is here where we access our own core of compassion towards others. This is a common experience in the healing arena. Witness how, for example, those who can most help drug addicts or survivors of violence, are those who have been there themselves. The wound is also the gift we can offer to others.
Liz Greene points out that Chiron's wound was accidental (according to some versions of the myth) and that astrologically it reflects a more collective wounding. No-one is to blame and there is a sense of unfairness to the suffering involved. I would certainly agree with the unfairness aspect of the wounding. However, I have also found numerous examples of a particularly focal Chiron, for example conjunct the angles, in the charts of clients who have suffered sexual abuse, hardly examples of collective wounding.
Another important point about Chiron is that the wound is never healed completely. This insight is also drawn from the myth of Chiron. The Chiron experience is a process and represents a journey towards increasing healing and whole-ness. It is unrealistic to think that we can be healed of our pain forever, that there is a miraculous cure for our suffering, or that we can even transcend our suffering. In the myth, Chiron the immortal god was only released from his wound and its excruciating pain when he exchanged places with Prometheus, the earthy Titan. In other words, he only found release from his pain in death. In the meantime, Chiron busied himself fostering and teaching younger gods. He passed on to others his knowledge of healing, particularly the use of healing herbs, astrology, warfare, hunting, music, ethics, and numerous other skills.
This is where we find some other archetypal meanings for Chiron. Obviously, not every astrologer has a healing bent, nor does every client feel wounded or inclined to seek healing. Chiron's natal position can also symbolise the teacher (inner and outer), the mentor, the philosopher, the shaman. Liz Greene says that the Chiron experience of pain, because it can never be completely healed or fixed, forces us to become philosophical in that area of life.
While many astrologers seem to focus more on the 'problem-solving' and 'fix-it' qualities of Chiron, others are looking for deeper meanings. Joyce Mason has written about the 'whole-making' nature of Chiron and says that the "inner marriage" of masculine/feminine is what Chiron is all about. Other astrologers have pointed to the Chironic split between the animal (instinctual) and 'spiritual' aspects of man/woman. There seems to be a theme of union, reconciliation and bridge-building with Chiron. This is aptly described by Hand Clow's symbol of 'The Rainbow Bridge'. Chiron, in its location between Saturn and Uranus, represents the bridge between the inner 'personality' planets and the outer 'collective' planets, between the old and the new, the past and the future, the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius. Errol Weiner in 'Transpersonal Astrology' defines Chiron as symbolic of the antahkarana, the link between the soul and the personality. Recently, New Zealand astrologer Andre Donnell, in an article in 'The Wholistic Astrologer', has postulated a new way of looking at Chiron using the keywords of reconstruction and reinvention.
I feel all of these approaches can be viewed as synonyms for 'healing' which literally means 'to make whole'. There is a repetitive theme of repairing cleavages and integrating dualities.
Transits of Chiron
There is still a lot more to be learned about Chiron. As far as transits go, I look particularly at the Chiron cycle, the squares, the opposition and the Chiron Return around age 50, and any conjunctions, squares and oppositions of transiting Chiron to natal planets. What I have found is that at the time of transits of Chiron, we can encounter the resurfacing of old wounds. I am personally not interested in prediction in an event-oriented context because I find that so often a transit will coincide with an inner experience just as frequently as an outer event, and sometimes it coincides with nothing at all! Chiron transits seem to provide opportunities for accessing deeper parts of ourselves through this replaying of old wounds and equally, opportunities for healing to occur. This can occur on physical and emotional levels.
A client, with transiting Chiron conjunct natal Sun, met a man who helped her to contact her suppressed creativity (natal Chiron in 5th quincunx Sun). She fell in love, became pregnant, and then he abandoned her. This reactivated her old feelings of abandonment by her father who was often absent during her childhood and also died of a heart attack (the Sun rules the heart) at the young age of 42. The gift for her has been the birth of the much-wanted child. You can see here the repetition of the 5th house themes of creativity, falling in love, children.
I discovered an interesting titbit from Barbara Hand Clow in her book "Liquid Light of Sex - Understanding your Key Life Passages". She writes that at 30, at the Saturn Return we form; at 40 at the Uranus oppositon, we transform; and at 50, at the Chiron Return, we transmute.
The Question of Rulership
There is much debate on the question of rulerships. Some favour Virgo (Hand Clow), others Sagittarius (Reinhart), still others Libra and Scorpio. Some astrologers, notably Joyce Mason and more recently Zane Stein, have put forward the theory that Chiron rules NO one sign, but rather ALL of these signs, that it describes a process which begins with Virgo, passing through Libra, Scorpio, and ending with Sagittarius. The idea is that in Virgo we become aware of our wound and embark on the healing process. In Libra, we seek balance and healing often through consulting an other. In Scorpio, we pass through the fires of transformation in the process of healing, and in Sagittarius, we have come through the other end, older, wiser, more philosophical and prepared to impart our wisdom to others. This seems to describe to me the process of movement from Wounded One to Teacher and Mentor.
I personally like the keyword reconciliation. In the glyph of Chiron we see a KEY, and symbolically I feel Chiron represents the key not only to personal healing, but to global healing. Perhaps in Chiron lies the key to healing our wounded and suffering planet. We heal the wounds of the past, both personal and collective, through a process of internal and external reconciliation. This process takes place not only within ourselves, but also between ourselves and others, between nations, between races, between black and white, between men and women. The key to reconciliation would seem to embrace the qualities of acceptance, tolerance, integration, forgiveness, love and compassion.
Before I included Chiron in chart work, I felt that something was missing. Once I started including Chiron, I noticed that a chart would come more alive for me. The pieces began to fit together. It was as if I had found the key to integrating the chart. Here I could find clues to working with and resolving some of the very real problems faced by my clients. I don't see Chiron as just-another-asteroid, or even as a conventional planet with its own rulership. Like the physical body which scientists believe emerged from outside our solar system and will eventually leave, its insertion into the chart during these millennial times may offer some valuable insight into the nature of our personal and planetary purpose.
Copyright © 1997 by Candy Hillenbrand
All rights reserved
This article was first presented in November 1997 as a contribution to the ACT (Astrological Conference on Techniques) mailing list.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CANDY HILLENBRAND is an Australian astrologer, flower essence practitioner and writer with a special interest in a growth-oriented and purpose-centred approach to astrology. She is a Social Sciences graduate and holds the Practitioners Qualification from the Federation of Australian Astrologers, co-winning the FAA's Allan Johnson Gold Medal in 1997. She is the editor and publisher of the quarterly international journal, The Wholistic Astrologer, and her articles appear regularly in a variety of print and online publications. Candy can be contacted at P.O. Box 1796, Macclesfield, S.A., 5153, Australia, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her web sites: "A Place in Space" - http://www.aplaceinspace.net and http://www.wholisticastrologer.com
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