Chiron: Weaving Together Body and Spirit
Our attention has been on the cacophony of the Cardinal Cross of late, but another actor in the solar system has been playing a subtle role in the drama of the skies.
The asteroid Chiron — teacher, martyr, medicine man — has been sextiling Pluto for much of the past three years.
Modern astrologers often assign Chiron’s rulership to Virgo, the sign of service and healing, citing the centaur of myth, who was a healer and a teacher. This would fit with the actual astronomy. Chiron reaches 0° declination (the equivalent of the Sun at 0° Aries) every 20 years in either Virgo or Pisces. This is the polarity of the body and the spirit, the 12th and the 6th houses. Here Chiron’s journey ends or begins.
Chiron has an erratic orbit, weaving between Saturn, Uranus and Mars. Because of this inconsistency, he spends much, much longer in some signs. So at the two extremes, he stays in Pisces for about nine years, and in Virgo for just over one. This certainly puts an emphasis on these signs for Chiron. Virgo is the sign of physical healing and Pisces of spiritual healing or, if things go wrong, the reverse, spiritual disintegration.
Currently Chiron is direct a 17° Pisces and will move just one degree further before turning retrograde on June 20. If you have planets at this point or in mutables at 17°/18°, pay attention. Chiron has been in Pisces since 2010, and he leaves in 2018. He spends longer around the mid-degrees of the sign than at either end, so right now Chiron is moving very, very slowly. When a planet (or asteroid) does this, you have to ask yourself, is he trying to make a point?
Much has been written about Chiron, but astrologers often seem to want him to mean something even if that does not quite fit the facts.
From my experience with real charts, Chiron is definitely involved in both physical healing and physical wounding. Chiron is involved with pain and with medicine. It is common for people in the healing professions, alternative and orthodox, to have Chiron on the MC or ASC or in the 6th house. It is common for a Chiron transit to bring some kind of pain – physical, emotional or mental. For a personal story on the Chiron transits around my broken foot, click here – (although I’d add that my love affair with Solar Arcs ended soon after this post). Chiron can be Healing Wounder as well as a “Wounded Healer”.
The last time Chiron was in Pisces was between 1960 and 1969, when he was in occasional opposition to Uranus and (widely) Pluto in Virgo. This was a decade when for some, drugs (Virgo) opened the doors of perception (Pisces). But Virgo is not just about medication but also about meticulous, daily practice and ritual, such as meditation or prayer. This was the decade when the hippie trail might lead to a sufi mystic in Morocco, a hare krishna ashram in Goa or a zen monastery in California. A place of religious retreat is ruled by Pisces.
It was also a decade when the modern environmental movement got started, thanks in part to the work of Rachel Carson and her seminal book Silent Spring, published in 1962. Environmentalism is, of course, connected to the earth signs, particularly Virgo and Taurus, those green-fingered gardeners. Uranus’ entry into Virgo in the 1960s awakened us to the many ways we were destroying the planet. For some, Chiron in Pisces connected this physical destruction to the spirit of Mother Earth as well as her body. James Lovelock began playing with ideas that became the Gaia Hypothesis in 1965. Although he may not consciously have wanted his theory to have a religious dimension, by using her name, he invokes her.
Piscean-style spirituality is, more than any other, about the immanence of the divine. Henry David Thoreau, the great-granddady of mystical environmentalism had Chiron in Pisces. And Chiron himself is half man-half beast; half-tame-half-wild, the product of a union between humans and wilderness.
If in personal charts and with personal transits Chiron often shows a wound or a wounding, how does pain work for the collective when Chiron is in Pisces? Two of the nastiest wars of the 20th century took place under Chiron in Pisces: WW1 and the Vietnam War, both of which were notable for the use of chemical weapons – poisoned gas being a Piscean murder weapon. Both wars would now probably be characterised as psychically wounding. The unresolved wound of WW1 led straight into WW2, when Chiron was racing through the opposite side of the Zodiac. Just to be precise: when war was declared in 1914, Chiron was at 17° Pisces; in 1939, he was at 17° Cancer (don’t forget that Chiron moves very fast through these signs) in a perfect emotional trine aspect to the WW1 Chiron. By the end of WW2, that is VJ day, Chiron was at 17° Virgo back exactly opposite to where it had been at the start of the Great War. Astrology can be very neat.
Back to kinder themes, Chiron in Pisces helps open the path to numinous spirituality and spiritual environmentalism which in the 1960s linked to a Virgoan need for ritual and practice. But today the path will be different since the current long-term aspects Chiron has made this time around are a conjunction with Neptune in Pisces (now over) and a sextile with Pluto in Capricorn (ongoing) – both different from the opposition to Uranus that was a feature of the 1960s.
The asteroid Chiron was only discovered in 1976. So this is the first time that Chiron has transited through Pisces when we have known of his existence. We have a new Chiron-consciousness now. It is especially important for the generation born in the 1960s, who are having a Chiron Return that lasts far longer than most people’s, but also for those with Chiron in Virgo – born in 1943/4/5 and 1993-1995 — who are having the opposition for far longer than most people.
It will be easier with hindsight to trace the larger story of this decade of Chiron in Pisces, but it is certain that we are dealing with the potential for both the healing and wounding. Already one of the features of the suppression of the uprisings in Egypt, Bahrain and Ukraine has been the unprecedentedly heavy use of tear gas. It’s a little unnerving to see that Chiron is approaching 17° Pisces again, where he will station in June.*
*Note that this was written before Ferguson, where again tear gas was used in unprecedented quantities. In Bahrain, 34 people have died from this. I have been trying to find statistics of teargas use and deaths on the net, but to no avail.