Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Dodging Chiron's healing arrows.
In earlier years I struggled to integrate Chiron
into my work. I don't use it at all now. The hypotheses of
Chiron's meaning remains, to me, unfulfilled. At the least it
is puzzling. Chiron does not seem so benign.
The “wounded healer” image is firmly set in our minds and is apt enough as it stands. Chiron the Centaur was wounded, could not heal himself in any way, yet continued to aid others until his plea for death was granted by Zeus.
In sacrificing his immortality, he left an opening for Prometheus to be released from his everyday Hell and re-take his place amongst the Gods.
It is true that Chiron
wasn't like the other Centaurs. Why was that? Was he born with a soul that was
mostly man and very little animal? An animal does not need to take weekend
workshops on becoming its true self…it just gets on with being itself. Anything
different just does not exist.
But Chiron did not act like the other Centaurs. They were feared for their bestiality, the chaos they could bring to a gathering. Chiron did not participate in the chaos yet could not be separated from it---why was he so different? Why was he the teacher amongst his beastly peers? Why could he apply his skills to doctor to all but himself?
“Physician, heal thyself” was a noble, bitter admonishment for Chiron. Not only did he have to endure an open unhealing wound, but the pain was said to be excruciating. To end his own suffering he had to give up and give into that very mortal part.
People are animals too. We can “just be” because that is the
animal part of us which has remained. It is so easy for us to pretend that we
are not part of the Animal Kingdom, or that somehow we have “transcended.”
Perhaps Chiron represents that struggle against our animal nature, which has collectively taken us into the dizzying heights of philosophy and the depths of existential angst.
I sometimes call Chiron the “when bad
things happen to good people” factor. But there is more to it than that (of
course). Sometimes Chiron seems to act as “Mary Poppins” and
help a spoonful of medicine go down with just enough sweetness. Sometimes
Chiron is like “The
Music Man” who gallops into town, sells a dream, causes disruption, and leaves
everyone changed---maybe for the better, maybe not.
If this sounds like a combination of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto to you then you're not the only one. The outer planets represent strong themes in our society, and forces which we are unable to control. But there are always some fools who think they can rule the world.
Since Chiron lies in the space between Saturn and Uranus, perhaps the comeuppance or schadenfreude due to all fools everywhere comes from the forces woven through the twin myths of ever-suffering Prometheus and Chiron.
They exist to remind us we are human and only human; we were the animals who were lucky enough to be handed the Word via thrice-great-Hermes.