Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chiron: The Shaman Centaur

© 2009 by Larry Williamson, Guest Blogger

Centaurus is one of two constellations said to represent the centaurs, mythical creatures with a human head and torso on top of a horse’s body. Centaurus was the name of the first centaur. The constellation Centaurus is primarily associated with Chiron, a wise, immortal being who was the King of the Centaurs. He was renowned for his healing skills and a wise teacher and mentor.

Chiron was the Son of Chronos (Saturn), ruler of the vanished golden age, where men lived in harmony with nature. His mother was the nymph Philyra, whose name means both “the love of music of the lyre” and “sweet-scented linden tree." Philyra gave birth to Chiron, was horrified by his appearance, and abandoned him. Chiron’s initial wound was the rejection and abandonment by his mother.

Apollo, the Sun God and Diana, Goddess of the Moon became Chiron’s foster parents—and along with the wild animals, his family. Chiron would become their first pupil and, in turn, he would teach humankind. Apollo and Diana taught him the art of healing, medicine, science, music, war, archery and all survival skills. All the greatest kings and heroes were taken to him as children to be raised in his cave. Some of his students were Jason, Achilles, and Hercules. Chiron taught Orpheus, the great musician, how to play the lyre in a way that made trees weep and rocks melt. He taught Asclepius, god of healing, the arts of healing and medicine.

Chiron’s healing powers were so great, it has been said that he cured those who suffered mortal wounds during the Trojan wars. Below Chiron’s cave lies a sacred valley where he grew powerful medicinal herbs, which he shared with his pupils, along with how to turn them into salves and potions. Chiron was the only centaur able to maintain his higher self. The centaurs were known for their rude, drunken and rowdy behavior, but Chiron was above the fray.

But, unfortunately, Chiron was not above harm. A stray arrow from the bow of Hercules accidentally wounded Chiron. The accident occurred during a wedding feast near Chiron’s cave. Pholus was the keeper of the jar of wine that belonged to the centaurs. He had been had been told not to open the jar. However, when Hercules arrived, he coaxed a reluctant Pholus into opening it, stating that the jar had been placed there generations ago waiting for his arrival. When Pholus opened the cask of wine as Hercules requested, the wild centaurs could smell the aroma from miles away. They sped to the scene, drank all the wine, went berserk, and tried to rape the bride. All mayhem broke out and Hercules tried to stop them. Elatus is the centaur associated with the woodlands and his name means “Fir Man,” because he used to pull up whole fir trees and use them as weapons. Elatus was killed by one of the poisoned arrows of Hercules, dipped in the blood of the many-headed Hydra, a poison from which there was no cure. This same arrow from the bow of Hercules passed through Elatus’s arm and continued its path to wound Chiron in the knee.

Hercules ran to him, pulled out the arrow and dressed the wound with a salve Chiron handed to him. Because the wound was incurable, Chiron moved to his cave yearning for death, but could not die because he was immortal. Ultimately, he passed on his immortality to Prometheus. Zeus saw what a grand and noble gesture this was, and then placed Chiron amongst the stars. In another version of the myth, Chiron offers to trade places with Prometheus who was chained to a rock for all eternity because he discovered fire—or as gods saw it, stole fire from them. Prometheus’s liver was being pecked out nightly as punishment, growing back each day for his vicious cycle of suffering. Since he was suffering himself without let-up, anyway, Chiron offered to take Prometheus's place. Both versions have the same ending. Zeus recognizes Chiron’s altruism, releases him from the bonds of his immortality, and raises him up in a constellation of stars.

In some versions of the story, in spite of his own pain and suffering, Chiron continued to help, heal and serve others. The term Wounded Healer seems to have emerged from this aspect of the myth. Others claim Chiron cured his wounds with the plant Centaury, the sacred herb of the centaurs, and never died. The best definition I ever heard of the Wounded Healer is “the ability to do things for others that we cannot necessarily do for ourselves.”

The kicker of the story is once Chiron was transformed into a constellation, it was not the archer centaur (Sagittarius) but actually the shaman centaur (Centaurus). The brilliant shamanic astrologer Daniel Giamario revealed this to me during an interview. Here the Shaman Centaur is dancing with a She-Wolf (Lupus) holding not a lance, or spear, but a magical and sexual Thyrsus, a staff of wild fennel topped by a pine cone, held by the centaurs. There is a region below the southern ecliptic including, Centaurus, the Shaman Centaur, the original constellation of Chiron. This area of the sky was far more elevated in the southern sky, and due to the precession of the equinoxes, it was all but lost to view in northern latitudes. Because the ancients Greeks couldn’t see the constellation Centaurus, they transferred it into the centaur of the archer, Sagittarius.

Before Chiron was discovered, astrologer Dane Rudhyar predicted there would be a new planetary body found between Saturn and Uranus that would act like a higher Moon. This is interesting, as both, Apollo and Diana, Goddess of the Moon, raised Chiron. One of the greatest paradoxes about Chiron astrologically is in our wounding lies the key to our healing, and it all has to do with feelings and emotions. All healing needs to begin with emotional healing.

This same paradox applies from an astrological interpretive point of view. Wherever Chiron is placed in the natal chart points to an area of possible woundedness, but it also indicates the area in which we can awaken the healing process for ourselves, and how we can best help, heal, and serve others towards integration and transformation. One of the first steps to accelerate the healing process is to “own our wounds.” You can’t change or transform anything you’re denying. Chiron, like Pluto, can serve as a powerful attachment breaker. “De-nial” isn’t just a river in Egypt!

Many astronomers believe Chiron is not an original member of our solar system, but rather came from outside it as a maverick, temporary visitor. They believe, in time, that Chiron will eventually leave. This is a symbolic parallel to the idea of the Bodhisattvas, who voluntarily return to the world of suffering to help assist others on the path of enlightenment. This clearly serves as a powerful metaphor of the Chironic themes of healing, helping and serving others.

It is this astrologer’s humble opinion that the connection between Chiron and Virgo seems clear. Both are associated with healing and service.

The humanistic astrologer Dane Rudhyar states that the trans-Saturnian planets owe allegiance to the galaxy, not the Sun! The former seems to imply “outside help,” the latter relates to “inner work,” or the power of change, transformation inherent in each of us. I feel it is incumbent for all astrologers not to become locked in or fixed solely on the principle of wounding with Chiron, but to cultivate and celebrate the teaching, mentoring, and meaningful service function. We all need someone in our lives at times to serve as a teacher, mentor and act as a bridge between two worlds.

Finally, let us honor our Inner Shaman, inner Teacher to help guide us on our journey towards healing, reconciliation and wholeness. The next time you need healing, go and heal someone else, and ask where have I failed to give? Out of the place of our wounds, will come our greatest gifts.


Laurence Williamson is a practicing astrologer with over thirty years' experience. While maintaining his steady practice, Larry served as the resident astrologer for Sagittarius Books store for over six years. He also teaches classes in astrology and mythology. Listen to Larry's New Moon Podcast at his Skybear Astrology website. Contact him at skybear2@juno.com.

Photo Credit: CEREMONY OF THE SHAMANIrbis769 |Dreamstime.com


Catherine Tennant – The Lost Zodiac

Tim Lyons - Astrology Beyond Ego

Daniel Giamario – Reflections on being 52

COMMENT CONTEST WINNER!  Congratulations to Sandra Moseley, second and final winner in our Mercury Direct Comment Contest. Sandra is an astrologer and Radical Virgo. Sandra and husband David Mosely have a wonderful website, Zodiac Arts, a visual feast and delightful to visit! Sandra has won a free copy of Joyce Mason's new e-book,  Chiron and Wholeness: A Primer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quotes for the Signs #4

© 2009 by Joyce Mason

I keep finding them—or they find me! Here’s Round Four of the latest zodiac quotefest.

ARIES - Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off. ~Author Unknown

TAURUS -  There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if we can only come to our senses and feel it. ~Elizabeth A. Behnke

GEMINI - I keep six honest serving-men,
They taught me all I knew;
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.  ~Rudyard Kipling

CANCER: Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson:  you find the present tense, but the past perfect!  ~Owens Lee Pomeroy

LEO -  Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. ~Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943

VIRGO - We are the products of editing, rather than authorship. ~George Wald, "The Origin of Optical Activity," Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1975

LIBRA - Endurance is frequently a form of indecision. ~Elizabeth Bibesco, Haven, 195

SCORPIO -  Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it's dark. ~Zen Proverb

SAGITTARIUS -  Every one of us has in him a continent of undiscovered character. Blessed is he who acts as Columbus to his own soul. ~Author Unknown

CAPRICORN - The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it. ~Elaine Agather

AQUARIUS - Rabbi Zusya said that on the Day of Judgment, God would ask him, not why he had not been Moses, but why he had not been Zusya. ~Walter Kaufmann

PISCES - Learning how to operate a soul figures to take time. ~Timothy Leary


Photo credit: AND I QUOTE © Zitramon |Dreamstime.com

Crave more Quotes for the Signs? Visit these previous posts:

NEWS! The winner of last week’s drawing in the Mercury Direct Comment Contest is Susannah of The Lion and the Lightning Bolt blog. Susannah won a free PDF download of my new e-book, Chiron and Wholeness: A Primer. A new contest drawing period starts today and runs through next Monday, Oct. 19, at midnight PDT. Comment for a chance to win in the second and final drawing.  People who commented last week but did not win will be rolled over into this week's drawing, in addition anyone making a new comment between Oct. 13-20. Next winner will be announced on or about Oct. 21.  Good luck!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Your Two Cents Worth! A Mercury Direct Comment Contest

Mercury has gone direct and the Sun is in Libra, the sign of relationship. What nice timing for friendly communications. To celebrate, I’m encouraging more talk amongst ourselves via Comments. I have met several great new friends who have commented on The Radical Virgo. It could happen to you, too!

Prizes! While friendship and shared ideas are the real prize—a nice combination of Venus and Mercury—let’s have some traditional prizes to sweeten the pot. Each person to comment over the next two weeks will be entered into a drawing to receive a free copy of my new e-book, Chiron and Wholeness: A Primer. There will be a drawing each week, so two free e-books will be given away worth $4.95 US each. Winners for the previous week will be announced at the bottom of the next two posts.

The comment contest applies to any post or article on The Radical Virgo. The only “rule” is that your comments be constructive and substantive—responses to the content of a post or sharing a related experience. More than, “Hi, nice post.” Good luck, and have fun!



Photo Credit: © Tomo Jesenicnik - Fotolia.com