Surrendering to the Wounded Healer
Chiron in Pisces sprinkles healing faery dust on us all from April 2010 until April 2018. Chiron and Pisces have a lot in common, both being about the need to surrender for the purpose of healing, sometimes bringing a sense of suffering.
Chiron the centaur is a hybrid creature who is half man and half horse. Pisces is represented by two fish swimming in different directions. Both have a dualistic symbolism, implying that there is more than one way that they manifest (a two-sidedness) and also more than one way to interpret their meanings. Although this can be said about any planet or sign to some extent, it is especially true of the signs symbolized by dualistic or hybrid creatures: Gemini (the twins), Libra (the scales), Sagittarius (the centaur archer), Capricorn (the sea-goat) and Pisces (the two fish).
Chiron the Centaur
Chiron is a tricky energy to master at the best of times. On one hand, it reflects our experience of running headlong into the brick wall of reality, along with the resulting wounds and scars we carry with us from that. On the other hand, it is also about healing and the reconciliation of that pain and struggle. And ultimately, it is about finding a workable balance between our physical and divine natures – between our creaturehood (and all that is necessary to sustain our physical existence) and our sentience (and all that is available to us in terms of choice, reason and awareness). (Read more about what Chiron symbolizes.)
Chiron symbolizes our experience of pain, alienation and woundedness, and is therefore connected to suffering in one form or another. In mythology, the centaur Chiron sustained a wound that never healed and he was said to have suffered unceasingly from it. And yet, it was this suffering that drove him to search for relief, and that search brought him the knowledge, wisdom and experience that expanded his knowledge about healing. This enabled him to counsel, teach and heal others, earning himself the label of the Wounded Healer. And it was through an act of compassionate negotiation that he was finally relieved of his suffering, by trading his life for Prometheus' freedom from torturous punishment. (Read the "Fractured Folklore" version of the mythology of Chiron.)
Chiron is therefore associated with phrases like "the Wounded Healer" and "the wound that never heals." There are some tragedies, crises and abuses from which our human nature cannot completely recover. That doesn't mean we have to let those wounds define us or consume us, but there is a certain quality to our experience of these things that cannot simply be wiped away. We carry the memory of that pain to some extent, and for some people that pain is never very far away from their here-and-now consciousness. For some of us, Chiron represents a more profound and persistent wound than for others.
Chiron represents a tricky dilemma in which a complete solution to the problem is often not possible, and yet the difficulty in the situation makes it necessary to do something about it. Caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place, what is one to do? It's all in how you frame the experience. Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes once said, "In this life you may not be healed of the disease, but you can be healed of its hold over you." Chiron solutions are the perfect embodiment of the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."
This is the essence of Chiron's wise healing. The mythological Chiron did not simply retreat into his cave and suffer. First, he did everything he could to see what could be done about it, by learning even more about the healing arts. Then, even when it became clear that nothing was going to eradicate the problem completely, he still didn't simply retreat. He taught and mentored many of the great Greek heroes and healers: Jason, Peleus, Asklepios, Aristaios and Akhilleus.
It's not that nothing can be done for these deep wounds, but it's a bit like pulling up a weed – a piece of the root often remains even after we think we have disposed of it all. This is usually an important influence in shaping who we are, and is just as fundamental to our spiritual and psychological growth as any feel-good, optimistic or inspiring experience can be.
Chiron astrologically is our persistent wound and also points to how to apply some healing to it. In a way, Chiron is not just the Wounded Healer, but also the Wound-ing Healer. It represents the area of life where you have suffered in some way that never seems to get complete resolved. And yet, it is also the area where you will find the most healing by allowing yourself to fully accept the reality of your experience in that area. Through acceptance of the problem, we usually find that we can progress further than if we simply fight the problem. Chiron is the ironic aspect of transformation. Look to the sign and house where your natal Chiron is and you'll discover the area of life that requires Chiron's unique brand of transformation.
Is Chiron the Sagittarius Centaur?
There is no definitive answer to this question. Online sources are mixed, including one of the most reliable online sources for Greek mythology, Theoi.com. Like Sagittarius, we'll just have to keep searching for the truth. ;-)
Zodiac Sign Pisces
Pisces is known, among other things, for its compassion, empathy and sensitivity. These qualities can, at their best, lead the person to want to help, heal and be of service to others. The Pisces part of us feels the other person's pain to such an extent that we may feel compelled to alleviate their distress, if only so that we won't continue to hurt by witnessing it.
Some truly amazing and moving feats have been accomplished from this level of compassion and caring. Mother Teresa is perhaps the most well known modern-day example of this kind of devotion (herself, born with Chiron in Pisces opposite her Sun, using the birth data commonly used for her). Piscean people can be drawn to self-sacrifice, believing that by forfeiting their own comfort, liberty or wellbeing, they can make it possible for someone else to prosper.
On one hand this is a noble, well-intentioned gesture that can potentially shield or rescue someone else from hardship. And sometimes people really do need rescuing – not to protect them from evolving, growing and strengthening, but to give a hand up when they're unable to give it to themselves. And the selfless Piscean energy in us all is capable of transmuting our empathy and compassion into action that places the needs of another before our own.
However, it can also become problematic if the rescuer is not looking after their own needs and winds up depleted. You can't be of much use to anyone else if you cripple yourself through excessive self-sacrifice. At the extreme, this can produce a melodrama of martyrdom – the noble benefactor who is themselves wretched. At worst, this condition of chosen yet helpless depletion could be used to justify manipulation or deception. This could even lead the person to become what is sometimes called a "psychic vampire," where the person drains others dry who offer their sympathy and energy. This is an example of why it is regarded as seriously unwise to jump in after someone who is drowning – throw them a lifeline instead, but stay safely on the shore where you can remain strong.
Most of the time, the Pisces in us resides in between these extremes. Our Pisces empathy and compassion lead us to want to donate to earthquake survivors in Haiti, for instance, or reach out to comfort someone we barely know who is in distress. We "feel their pain" and suffer along with them as we witness their crisis. And as long as we don't allow ourselves to be dragged down into that crisis, we can remain a strong resource to help and support others.
Chiron in Pisces
There is a common thread running between Chiron and Pisces: the potential for suffering. If Pisces believes that suffering is noble and Chiron experiences suffering as unavoidable, their combination could amplify the experience and idealization of suffering. A spiritual approach to Chiron in Pisces might want to regard suffering as a noble end in itself. However, there is a risk of becoming stuck in one's suffering and pain. The danger lies in believing that if you're not suffering, it must mean you're not working hard enough on whatever wounds or shortcomings you're trying to resolve or heal.
A more practical (and in many ways healthier) perspective might be to treat suffering not as an end in itself, but as a symptom meant to inspire an end to suffering. This could be tricky if Chiron's contribution of "the wound that cannot heal" makes it impossible to resolve or even lessen the problem. That's when it becomes necessary to focus beyond your immediate discomfort and be willing to find a level of acceptance as expressed in the Serenity Prayer – not to resign yourself to helpless misery and not to cling to an illusion of having absolute control over eradicating the problem, but to work with the dilemma. To some extent and in some way, it may be necessary to simply find a way to co-exist with the problem so that you retain your integrity, uniqueness and strength while also accepting that you are not all-powerful. We are all co-drivers of physical reality, and sometimes that means we must share the driver's seat.
Alternatively, while Chiron is in Pisces, you could attract wounded people to you who need to be healed in some form. Whether you take up the challenge to become their healer should be a decision not made lightly. When you are in the sway of Pisces' ultra-sensitive energy, it's easy to take on the conditions and feelings of those around you. If you are not sufficiently prepared for the experience of getting close to deeply wounded people, it's possible you could lose yourself in your efforts to help them – like jumping in to save a drowning person.
It is essential to be able to acknowledge and work within your limitations. That doesn't have to mean turning your back on someone in distress, but it does mean recognizing what you can and can't realistically do without sacrificing your own much-needed strength. This is especially true when it comes to the needs of your physical body; e.g. staying healthy, adequate sleep, taking the time and space you need to de-stress, etc.
However, Chiron is meant to be much more than simply learning how to "grin and bear it." The acceptance of our woundedness (not to be confused with resignation) can free up enormous stores of energy that were otherwise used to fight against the inevitable. That released energy can be used in deeply creative ways. Chiron himself used it to become a master healer and teacher. People with a strong Chiron are often found in the healing fields, and bring a special ability to guide others through the difficult terrain that they themselves are familiar with.
Pisces is also extremely creative, be it artistically, musically or spiritually. When we surrender to and immerse ourselves within the creative process, we are drawing on our Pisces energy. Chiron in Pisces has the potential to release some deeply moving creative energy which can have a powerfully healing effect on both creator and observer. As Chiron goes through Pisces for the next 8 years, pay special attention to your creative impulse – that inspiration that suddenly shows you an opportunity to bring into existence something potentially wonderful, exciting, healing, beautiful, moving, enlightening or fulfilling.
The Chiron Return
The entrance of Chiron into Pisces is especially interesting because it means all the Uranus-conjunct-Pluto kids born in the 1960s are about to go through their Chiron return. Chiron return happens to everyone at around age 50-51. Like any planetary return (when the planet returns to its zodiacal position when you were born), it brings to the foreground the issues, themes, lessons and learning of that planet. You have a chance to take stock of how far you've come since the last return, what you have accomplished and what still needs some work. You'll only have one Chiron return in your life unless you live to be about 100.
Chiron return brings you back to that deep wound and challenges you to take a closer look at it. There will be ways you have worked on healing your problems that have helped and other ways that haven't worked so well. It's common to come to the realization that some aspects of that woundedness will probably never be completely wiped away – and that's okay. It doesn't mean you've failed. It doesn't mean life can't be fulfilling and joyful and good.
This is when it helps to meditate on something like the Serenity Prayer. If you're not comfortable with the "God-word," that's fine, just leave it out or substitute something else. This isn't about religion; it's a spiritual exercise. By spiritual, I mean that it's about finding a perspective of higher meaning in your experiences, connecting to a sense of something greater than yourself, whether that is your community or nature or the universe (little-u) or the Universe (capital-U) or God(s) or the Cosmic Muffin. ;-) The idea is to allow yourself to feel like you're a part of something bigger that supports you when you need it – because you are!
© Wendy Guy 2010, all right reserved. Beyond brief quotes or strictly personal purposes, please obtain written permission from the author to reproduce this article. Image of Centaur, by William Blake, via Wikimedia.