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Chiron

(kī`rŏn), in Greek mythology, centaur, son of Kronos. He was a renowned sage, physician, and prophet. Among his pupils were Hercules, Achilles, Jason, and Asclepius. When Hercules accidentally wounded Chiron, the pain was so great that Chiron surrendered his immortality to Prometheus and died. Zeus then set him among the stars as the constellation Sagittarius.

Chiron

(kÿ -ron) A large interplanetary object that has been classified both as an asteroid ((2060) Chiron) and as a comet (Kowal–Meech–Belton, or 95P/Chiron). It was discovered in 1977 by Charles T. Kowal but was subsequently identified on photographs taken as early as 1895. Studies of Chiron's light curve indicate that it rotates on its axis once every 5.9 hours. It has a 50.7-year orbit that lies almost entirely beyond that of Saturn; perihelion and aphelion distances are 8.46 and 18.94 AU respectively. The orbit is also highly elliptical, with an eccentricity of 0.383, and is inclined at an angle of 6.93° to the plane of the ecliptic. Astronomers have found that this orbit is unstable over a time scale of a million years owing to perturbations by the giant planets. It is thought that Chiron has not occupied this orbit for more than a few million years and will in time either collide with a planet or be ejected from the Solar System. With a diameter estimated at 148 to 200 km, Chiron is much larger than most comets and comparable in size with an asteroid or icy satellite. But the case for assuming it to be a large comet was strengthened in 1988 when astronomers detected a gas and dust coma around it and confirmed in 1991 the presence of cyanogen radicals typical of comets but not normally found in asteroids. Chiron's anomalous status as a sort of half asteroid–half comet has led astronomers to give it a new classification, that of centaur . It may also be an object from the Kuiper belt. Chiron's most recent passage through perihelion occurred in February 1996. See Table 3, backmatter.

Chiron

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Before considering the meaning of Chiron in the horoscope, exploring some of its astronomy can help us reflect on its meaning. Chiron was discovered in 1977, between Saturn and Uranus, and reclassified several times until 1992, when the Kuiper Disk was discovered. This is a large disk of matter surrounding the solar system that comprises probably billions of small celestial objects and has yielded several new astronomical categories, including “Centaurs.” Chiron is now considered to be the first of this group, and to date more than 20 others have been discovered, although only a few are named. The naming process itself tells us something about the astrological themes of Chiron and the Centaurs, as it is the first time in recorded history that astrologers and astronomers have cooperated in such a venture. The scientific and intuitive and the rational and inspirational have been brought together.

Chiron’s discovery at this pivotal time in our history reflects the process of innovation and change by “quantum leap” and most importantly, the skills needed to deeply integrate the resulting profound changes of consciousness, belief, behavior, and lifestyle. In this sense, Chiron bridges the realms of Uranus (radical change, revolution, and the overturning of old collective structures) and Saturn (the preserver of existing forms). By weaving both impulses into a higher synthesis, more uniquely personal than either planet, Chiron’s process helps us individuate beyond the various pressures of the collective to which we are all subject. Commitment to the healing of self, others, and our environment is the price was are asked to pay, and it is a lifelong journey, not a weekend workshop.

Further, Chiron and the other Centaurs all have very elliptical orbits, distinguished by the fact that they cross the orbital path of at least one other body, from Saturn outwards. Here, too, we can see that Chiron is about integrating the powerful experiences signified by the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and especially Pluto, which is, in fact, the largest inhabitant of the Kuiper Disk and the only orbit-crossing planet. Centaurs come into being when objects are drawn in to the solar system from the icy wastes of space in the region around Pluto, pulled by the gravitational field of Neptune. So Chiron and the Centaurs function as integrators of transpersonal experience, weaving together different levels of reality; they are the messengers of the underworld (Pluto’s domain), the bringers of transformation, and the facilitators of deep healing. They preside over all rites of passage, especially those concerning our spiritual development.

The Mythic Image

In Greek mythology, the Centaurs were a tribe of unruly creatures who were half horse, half human. Of these, very few have individual names and stories, and Chiron is perhaps the most well-known, often associated with the archetypal theme of the wounded healer. He was the son of Kronos (astrological Saturn) and a sea nymph called Philyra. Because both parents were in their horse form when he was conceived, Chiron emerged as a centaur—half horse, half human. (Note here the reference to the deep past—the conditions around our conception.) Philyra was so horrified that she prayed to be turned into anything other than what she was—the mother of a monster. Chiron was abandoned and rescued by a shepherd who took him to the Sun god Apollo. This suggests the primary level of “wounding” that Chiron can depict, in a dramatic and painful separation from his mother who rejects him. This reminds us that even with the best mothering, at the “animal” level we all suffer from a sense of abandonment at birth. Chiron’s mother Philyra also demonstrates the primary state of mind that creates suffering (i.e., the inability to accept things).

Further, we can see the astronomy reflected in the mythology, in that Chiron is taken to Apollo, and fostered by the Sun god. In their elliptical orbits, Chiron and the Centaurs appear to be tending inwards to the Sun, like Chiron taken to Apollo. This detail also tells us that our suffering and our compulsions needs to be brought into the light, for Apollo was the god of healing, music, prophecy, and other skills. Chiron became the mentor of many famous Greek heroes, passing on the knowledge that would prepare them for their destinies. In the episode that earned Chiron the title of “Wounded Healer,” he was accidentally wounded by Hercules, one of his students. Because Chiron was a demigod, he could not die, but neither could he heal himself as the wound was poisoned. After existing in agony for a long time, Chiron changed places with Prometheus, who was chained to a rock as a punishment for tricking Zeus, the astrological Jupiter. Note that Chiron approaches the orbit of Jupiter, cutting across the orbit of Saturn, as if trespassing the boundaries, or breaking the old model. Thus, both were released from their suffering. Chiron was able finally to die and was immortalized in the constellation of Centaurus, which flanks the Southern Cross.

Learning through Suffering

So in the horoscope we find multilayered themes around Chiron’s placement. It indicates where situations encountered in the present may trigger memories of earlier suffering in the preverbal domain. Thus, we may experience powerful reactions seemingly out of proportion and resulting in a driven quality to our behavior and interactions with others. This intensity can produce stress and anxiety, but it can also be the stimulus for enormous creativity, originality, and authenticity. Chiron in the horoscopes of famous people demonstrates this, where a cameo is revealed of precisely the person’s main contribution to life, for good or ill. Chiron shows where intense and sometimes painful experiences may occur, where we might malfunction by deficiency or by overdoing it, where there is a sense of struggle for balance, and where we give more easily than receive owing to the vulnerability residing there.

Equally, Chiron may show our “destiny” as our innate gifts and wisdom seek inner recognition there, and it both locates the inner teacher and describes the nature of significant learning experiences that life will provide. The development of compassion for our own suffering and that of others is also an important Chiron theme, where we learn to tread the middle way between denial and indulgence of our pain. We discover that healing does not happen through human skill alone, but emanates from the great source, however we understand that. So around Chiron we may meet the “unfixable” as its process is intended to lead us beyond superficial “cure” to the mysteries of our participation in the cosmos and a deeper understanding of our place in it. Discerning the difference between the pain of an experience and the ongoing suffering caused by our resistance to feeling the pain is part of the healing journey of Chiron, and it asks of us that we tread the path of service as we invite healing for ourselves and others along the way.

Ancestral Influences and Prenatal Life

With Chiron and also the other Centaurs, the “liminal” realms of ancestral influences and prenatal experiences often feature as an interesting aspect of their healing process. Examining Chiron in this light may reveal family “stories” that are incomplete, the residue of which is passed down through the generations, and, like the poisoned arrow of Hercules, lodged in our energy-body, creates pain and distress until healed through awareness. So differentiating ourselves from those who went before, but also honouring their gifts to us is part of the Chiron process. We heal the ancestral line by doing this consciously. Equally, an important but “invisible” aspect of our heritage has its roots in our intrauterine experience, where our soul is strongly impacted by the emotional experiences passing between our mother and father and other significant members of the family, and indeed their attitude to our immanent arrival. In deep psychospiritual processes occurring both in natural development, and also through shock or trauma, this area may open up and what is sometimes termed an “ego death” may result, meaning a radical transition involving the letting go of previous ways of being. Such experiences may be difficult to communicate and thus to integrate, as they belong to the precognitive realm, and may also lead into dimensions of experience that are not yet part of the traditional models used in psychotherapy, although familiar to the ancient shamanic ways of indigenous cultures. Hence, the theme of “exile” that is often felt around Chiron. We feel different, not understood, outside life, and in seeking to heal this wound, we may discover a deep thread of spiritual continuity that allows us to release our highest potential into life. Enquiring into these areas may bring significant healing as the “arrows” of ancestral issues are removed. (Note that in astrology we use the birth chart, which also embodies the major celestial patterns at work during gestation.)

Expanding Our View

As Chiron moves between Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus, its process reflects the development of our understanding, beliefs, and perspectives as we try to live up to our highest potential, participate in creative change, and integrate new ideas. The suffering created by Saturnian resistance to the new (Uranus) is gently processed and integrated over time, so that change can truly be grounded and our participation in life is enhanced (Jupiter). It seems that a nondual perspective is trying to take root, where the opposites of mind/body, material/spiritual, and other polarities all have a place, but are not fused or confused. A “transcognitive” wisdom must develop, going beyond the split where instinct and intellect are pitted against each other. A multidimensional world view, which has compassionate space for all human experience, seems to be the Chironian view, and it is an integral part of healing. Allowing this to develop requires us to move beyond negative judgements of ourselves and others. Examining Jupiter and Uranus in the horoscope will shed light on some of the collective beliefs and stereotypes we need to release in order to be healed. Saturn’s position and the conditions within the fourth, eighth, and twelfth houses may provide further clues to the ancestral heritage that needs to be transformed.

Chiron’s process brings the magical, the awesome, the numinous, and the powerful. The forces of nature and the shamanic “otherworld” may open, for we will encounter the nonrational world of invisible beings, the spirits of animals, places, and people. This tricky, risky, and inviting realm is not to be entered lightly, and Chiron’s process may call us to become familiar with and respect a world of dynamic energies far removed from technology, standardization, and anonymity. Personal gnosis is the soul’s intention on this journey, whatever the experiences along the way. So look for the unusual, quirky, eccentric, or archaic around Chiron, and be aware that much letting go of pride and sophistication may be asked.

Rites of Passage—The Chiron Return

Because Chiron’s orbit is so elliptical, its cycle is irregular and needs to be tracked using an ephemeris. For example, Chiron’s first square to its own natal position may occur anytime from about age 5 to age 23, depending on the sign. However, it returns to its natal place regularly in approximately 50 years, and this age is an important threshold crossing for both men and women. For in the few years after its return, Chiron retraces all the aspects by transit which occurred in the formative years of our life. Thus, we have the opportunity to revisit and bring healing to those areas, and very likely life will provide us with experiences that open them up.

Studying Chiron in Your Horoscope

The easiest way to understand Chiron in your horoscope is to track its transits over time, particularly the main hard aspects: conjunction, square, and opposition. The inner and outer events occurring under these transits will often reveal a storyline that is no less than the unfolding of the soul over time, as it encounters experiences that are required for the development of wisdom, compassion, and a sense of participating in our own destiny with integrity. Start by using the same orbs as you would use for transits of Saturn and experiment as you pick up the story. As Chiron is not a planet, the traditional concept of rulership over the zodiacal signs may not apply, although being a Centaur, it does have a thematic link with the psychospiritual process of development in the sign of Sagittarius, the Archer. A new concept of emphasis is required, such as the notion of “degree zones,” where Chiron is crossing the orbit of Saturn, at perihelion or aphelion, and so on. Do not expect that you can equate Chiron with healing/suffering or any other themes in the way that you can equate Mercury with communication issues. True, the ordinary astrological factors—sign, house, and aspects—often clothe an individual’s Chiron “story” with astonishingly literal details. But to understand Chiron deeply, one must partake of the healing and transformation of consciousness he represents.

When the Kuiper Belt was first discovered, the scientific community declared it to be the “newest frontier of planetary science.” Although Chiron and the Centaurs are not used by every astrologer, those working in depth with clients have found that Chiron and the Centaurs accurately reflect important psycho-spiritual processes not covered by the traditional planets, and address the inner world of healing and transformation in a precise manner.

—Melanie Reinhart

Sources:

Alexander, Marianne. The Centaur Pholus. Kenner, LA: Pandora Publishing, 1996.
Clow, Barbara Hand. Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Outer Planets. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1987.
Koch, Dieter, and Robert von Heeren, “The New Planet Pholus.” TMA (July 1996).
Koch, Dieter, and Robert von Heeren. Pholus-Wandler zwischen Saturn und Neptun. Tubingen, Germany: Chiron Verlag, 1995.
Lantero, Erminie. The Continuing Discovery of Chiron. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1983.
Nolle, Richard. Chiron, the New Planet in Your Horoscope. Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, 1983.
Reinhart, Melanie. Chiron and the Healing Journey. Rev. ed. London: Penguin Arkana, 1999.
Reinhart, Melanie. Saturn, Chiron and the Centaurs: To the Edge and Beyond. London: Centre for Psychological Astrology Press, 1996.
Reinhart, Melanie, and Isabella Kirton, “Spirit Child.” Apollon Magazine (No. 3).
Steffen, Penny, “The New Centaurs Pholus and Nessus.” Journal of the Astrological Association (Vol. 41, no. 3).
Stein, Zane. Essence and Application: A View from Chiron. New York: CAO Times, 1986.
Von Heeren, Robert. “The Naming of Nessus.” Journal of the Astrological Association (Vol. 39, no. 6).

Chiron

[¦kī¦rän]
(astronomy)
An object circling the sun in an eccentric orbit which takes it from inside the orbit of Saturn out to near the orbit of Uranus, and which has a period of 50.7 years.

Chiron

immortal centaur. [Gk. Myth.: Kravitz, 58]

Chiron

centaur, gave up his immortality in order to end the intolerable suffering accidentally inflicted by one of Heracles’ poisoned arrows. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 194]

Chiron

knowledgeable Centaur; instructed Achilles, Jason, and Asclepius. [Gk. Myth.: Parrinder, 62]
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