Chiron in Alternative Education: Informal Perspectives on the Eternal Healer
by M.Kelly Hunter, PhD, CAP
(copyright 2010 by the author)
Kelley is an internationally-known astrologer and mythologist with a deep psycho-spiritual approach to astrology. She is the author of Living Lilith: Four Dimensions of the Cosmic Feminine and the upcoming expanded version of Black Moon Lilith. Visit her website at www.heliastar.com
Chiron in our charts shows where we are on a quest for healing and wholeness. As we follow that quest, we find how we can serve particular others in their own quest for well-being. The Greek Centaur Chiron was both a teacher and healer, master of all arts and sciences, mentor to many young Greek heroes, educating/initiating them to their quests in life. His pupils included Jason of the Argonauts, Hercules, Aklepios, Achilles and others. A master healer and educator, helping each student learn what they needed to know to fulfill their heroic quest in life, Chiron was one of the last of the Centaurs, living in remote reaches of northern Thessalonica. Chironic master teacher herself, Jean Houston suggested that the Centaurs were the descendants of a very ancient race, perhaps even Neanderthal. These short, stocky people rode on shaggy little ponies up and down their mountain sides, looking like human-horse beings, or horseman beasts, as they were sometimes termed. They carried the Earth wisdom of a 100,000 years of hands-on knowledge of pharmacology, flora and fauna, biology, medicines, the seasons and the tides and the stars. At its discovery, Chiron fit no existing category as an astronomical body. Its 50-year cycle brings Chiron closer to us than Saturn at perihelion, then it backs out to touch the orbit of Uranus. Thus connecting the planetary realm out to Saturn, visible to the naked eye, with the telescopic outer planets, Chiron represents a whole-brain bridging energy that synchronistically links our momentary experience with the universal. Personally, it indicates the direction of our own quest for healing and the special gift we each bring to the world. The current acceleration of planetary vibrations is facilitating and demanding quicker and more total learning. Chiron is an important key. Because of our restricted educational experiences, we often forget how much fun it can be to learn. In an essay called, "Study as a Spiritual Practice," Simone Weil reminds us: In Between World
Chiron may be a stop-over for many of us on our way in and out of here. It is where we pick up our karmic wild card and punch in. Chiron transits accompany souls moving into and out of incarnation, at impregnation/birth and at death, as well as other profound life altering passages. These are the crisis times when the soul is calling for imminent manifestation of the spirit.
Chiron's holistic energy dynamic requires the physical integration of a new consciousness, as Chiron bridges Saturn, planet of form, function and structure with Uranus, a radical dimension of transpersonal potentiality. With a foot in both worlds, Chiron will often manifest as literal metaphor or physical symptom, so we can deal literally with where the energy needs to open up. This deeper level of energy that emerges will be stronger, more powerful and more truly integrated on all levels. The healing process, which peaks at particular moments of crisis, is very particular to each individual and carries a strong emotional charge. Chiron indicates this individual uniqueness and the special gifts, called one’s “medicine” in Native American terminology, that each person brings into life. These gifts have been gathered through the soul’s history, like essential threads to weave the wholeness of the fabric of ourselves and the world. This very transformative energy is felt on a sensate level, a very physical, sensual energy that is also Earth-connected. There is a sense that something is missing, some vital, life-giving connection. The seeking, then, evokes the healing, but is only effective when we bring our whole being into the seeking. Chiron is essentially experiential. Chiron positions us on a potent threshold beyond mind—“crossing the great water," as the I Ching puts it. When it is time for this crossing, the pressure of the existing space gets smaller and smaller, too cramped and tight, like the womb when we are ready to be born, the squeeze of water pressure during a diving descent, or like the underground hole Alice fell into following the White Rabbit: On her first step across the threshold into Wonderland (during a Chiron transit, no doubt), Alice got much bigger, then much smaller. She had a hard time reaching the key (a Chiron symbol) to the door and was finally swept along in a river of her own tears, with other creatures of all types. She then continued her journey in the altered time-space reality. As the “wounded healer,” Chiron touches into the deepest place that calls for healing. Often these are broken threads from our past, this lifetime or previous ones, that are repeated until they are healed by tapping into a new level of consciousness, then resolved, allowing the fullness of the spirit to manifest. Elaine's Chiron Transit
In a college course called Sky Mythology, one of my students was having a very difficult time personally. Elaine, a young woman in her late 20's, she was in great emotional distress, to which she usually responded by mental abstraction. This ability to abstract was shattered for a time by the distress of her body. She had trouble articulating her understanding of what was going on with herself and in the class. She did not pay a lot of attention. She could only take in so much of the material we were covering. For her class report, she decided to work with Chiron, as she knew she was having a strong transit, with Chiron conjuncting her planetary stellium in Virgo. Her natal Chiron is in Pisces, opposite the stellium and Saturn in Aquarius (hence the tendency toward limiting mental abstraction).
Chiron crossing Pluto in Virgo opened up the issues of the whole generation that has that Pluto placement. Pluto was in Virgo 1956-1972. Chiron transited Virgo from September 1993 to September 1995, affecting this generation with a powerful transit that, for most, included a multiple opposition including Pluto/Uranus in Virgo and Chiron and/or Saturn in Pisces. The electromagnetic response of the body tunes right into the depth of the Earth, feeling what Earth is feeling, the intense joy and the intense pain. With the stimulation activated by this transit, Elaine’s body was releasing painful memories stored deep in the cells. Coming through with the release of personal memories were larger memories from the collective dimension of Pluto, from the underworld, the heart of the Earth. There was a sense of grieving the separation from Earth and being out of touch with her natural body rhythms. There is a corresponding grief of the soul for its separation from the divine; the Virgo-Pisces polarity accentuates this dual separation. This is an initiation to a deeper sense of one's own love essence and how that is connected to something larger than oneself. Chiron places one on the edge, facing a wide stretch that can feel intimidating, as it brings the energy from the universal dimension of infinite boundaries (Chiron in Pisces) into a deeper sensation of incarnated body energy within very specific physical boundaries (Virgo). There is the necessity to ground into a particular time/space coordinates in order to accomplish one's purpose, give one's gift. This can feel very empowering, very particular and very peculiar. Only certain things work, only certain things feel right on all levels. Situations, circumstances, relationships will or will not strike very deeply as being correct, complete, whole, integrated. That is what this transit is about—to learn how to respond more surely and instinctively to what is whole. This is an important part of the healing. With the help of therapy and of music, Elaine began to overcome her addictive rationalizations and escapism. But it was drumming, connecting to the deep rhythms in her own and body and the heartbeat of the Earth, that she gained new ground and centered. She rebalanced, came out of her head and more into her body and soul. A main key was spending more time in spiritual practice. Then, in order to understand this transformational experience on a cognitive level, she came to a further integration of the process by considering the concept of the hologram. The hologram is a new physics concept that postulates the universe as a complex of images or illusions, projected from a reality beyond time and space. A hologram, a virtual reality, is created from the criss-crossing of waves (light waves, gamma-rays, x-rays) that "interfere" with each other like ripples in water. The brain itself may be a hologram, and the objective world as we know it, or think it, may not exist in the way we believe. What is "out there" is really a vast, resonating symphony of wave forms, "a frequency domain” that is transformed into the world as we know it only after it has entered our senses. In her healing process, Elaine had to go beyond the rational directly into the realm of experience, trusting her intuition to find her way. After this direct involvement of her senses in creative and body work and a period of spiritual retreat and silent contemplation, she then found theoretical material through which to integrate her experience into rational awareness. This last step is always important for an integration of a transformational process into daily life, but for Elizabeth this was a particularly crucial step in the process, since her Saturn is in Aquarius, an air sign. The rational (air) can be what separates and alienates her from her direct, felt experience, but it is also the key that opens the rational awareness to a cognitive appreciation of information available from other dimensions of the self--the senses (earth), the feelings (water), the intuitive (fire). She now has a new perception of reality, an enhanced alignment of her energy bodies and is more grounded. In her process paper at the end of the course, Elaine began to be able to articulate her experience, accept her physicality and, she concluded, "I'm longing to know and share my wholeness in a softer, more elegant way." As we see from Elaine’s experience, Chirotic education includes a synthesis of healing, intuition, sensation and cognition. Its function is to evoke a quantum leap, a paradigm shift, from Jupiter/Saturn to Uranus and back again. More Chiron in Alternative Higher Education
In September of 1994, the Adult Degree Program at Vermont College of Norwich University inaugurated its new Holistic Studies group. I worked with this program for a number of years. This new group was created in response to the growing number of adult students looking for college education in areas such holistic health, consciousness studies, psycho-spirituality, transpersonal psychology, etc. The Adult Degree Program is the oldest low-residency, alternative education program for adult students in the country. It began at Goddard College in the 1960’s and moved to the Vermont College campus of Norwich University in 1981 along with several innovative Master’s level programs. It was a radical, shocking move for Goddard College, a pioneering, non-traditional college to sell programs to Norwich University, the oldest private military college in the country. But it was also very Chironic, bridging the innovative Uranus with the structured Saturn.
The educational philosophy behind these programs was articulated by John Dewey, who advocated hands-on learning by doing and integrating theory with practice—again, very Chironic! The Vermont College programs are all self-designed, which means that students develop their own curriculum, with the guidance of faculty mentors, based on what they have a driving passion to study. “Follow your Passion” and “Trust the Process” are the two program mottoes which every student learns by heart and experience. It is a challenge to adult students returning to school after years and often after conventional, even traumatic school experiences, to be asked such profound questions about their own educational goals. It is empowering, and very much on the Chironic quest. ADP studies are contracted with faculty advisors who background in the student’s area and outlined for a 6-month semester that is accomplished by correspondence until the return to campus when students and faculty meet again. This kind of programs are more available now, but Goddard and ADP were pioneers. The ADP took another quantum leap when they initiated the Holistic Studies group. Right from the beginning, this group was different, attracting even more alternative types than usual, seeking a compatible way to further their unique interests and earn academic credentials. Many of them were “wounded healers,” Chironic types who had gotten into the alternative field seeking their own healing. The faculty included a naturopathic doctor, a Jungian therapist, an eco-psychologist, a movement therapist, and an archetypal psychologist/astro-mythologist (that would be me). Certainly it is true in a Program like this that the faculty advisor, as “keeper of the process,” learns as much from the student as s/he gives. This mix of people gave rise to passionate dialogues about what was appropriate or not for studies, about how to ground study material, about academic standards in new fields. The original student group was very committed to supporting each other and the newcomers. As an educational motto, “Follow your Passion" suggests deep investigations that expand one’s horizons. New Physics was a topic that caught general interest. One student presentation in this field was given by a man dressed in a green velvet long-tailed coat worn over a white frilled poet shirt. While studying new physics, his early love of music had been rekindled. He illustrated physic concepts while playing the piano, which he had studied for years. He had the group toning to chords. Students did studies in such areas as past life therapy, feminist depth psychology, psychological astrology, ecology and movement therapy, art as a means of recovering from childhood abuse, flower essences and homeopathy. One woman with multiple personalities presented a multi-media collage of cut glass as a symbol of self-healing from destructive patterns. A woman studying transpersonal psychology wrote a manual for caretakers of the dying, accompanied by a tape of guided imagery. Another woman produced a marvelous manuscript on hermetic philosophy and her initiation into love and magic while on a foreign cruise. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the line between teaching and therapy in this Program. Indeed—for Chiron it is the part of the same process of becoming whole. Chironic Communication: Sign Language
The charts of a master sign language class and two sign language interpreters urged me to consider this handy form of communication to be Chironic—it makes sense for the archetype. The word Chiron suggests the hand, as in the words chiropractic, the manipulation by hands, and chirognomy, palm reading. The chart of the master class featured a Chiron-North Node conjunction, indicating that this class seeks to reach a new level. The mentor of this group had her Chiron conjunct the class Sun. She had been telling them all along that she was only serving to invoke what they already knew.
The charts of the two interpreters show Chiron prominent. Chart one has an Aries Sun as the focal point of a T-square involving a Chiron-Uranus opposition. It is interesting to note how this pattern is activated by the class chart. Chart two also shows a Chiron-Uranus opposition. This time the Sun is conjunct a Uranus ascendant and exactly opposed Chiron. This interpreter also has an exact Mars-Pluto conjunction on the royal star Regulus. She has interpreted for Bill Clinton, Al Gore and other powerful leaders. Of course these charts do not constitute a conclusive study of Chiron as an indicator of sign language, but they do suggest an avenue of further research that is quite appropriate. A Real Story of Chiron in the Arts
The cover of the August-September 1995 issue of Art New England featured a portrait of Chiron by famed artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). Achilles astride his equine back, Chiron is rearing up toward the sun, teaching the young hero to shoot the bow and arrow.
The accompanying story is “Grand Entrances,” an article written by art historian Kristen L. Erickson in honor of the restoration and reopening of the Huntington Avenue entrance of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This painting is part of a series of murals that Sargent was contracted to paint for the Museum and the Boston Public Library, two glorious architectural additions to the City in 1909 and 1898, respectively. These institutions were built with the purpose of creating an enlightened citizenry by exposing the public to literature and art. The main entrance to the Museum, with its large airy dome and staircase hall, was decorated with Sargent’s murals based on Greek mythological subjects, in progress from 1916-1925. Together art and architecture invited the visitor to a timeless, enlightened domain, inspiring intellectual thought and contemplation. In 1990, this main entrance was closed in order to save money. Visitors then had to enter the modern wing, added in 1981, through a door connected to the parking garage, and were greeted by an information desk, cafe and museum shop. This commercial welcome did not encourage contemplative reflection. However, the Uranus/Neptune conjunction prevailed! During the summer of 1995, the original main entrance was reopened and the Boston Public Library, designed and decorated with the same aim toward enlightenment, was renovated as well. Chiron must have been urging them to prepare for his September entry into Libra, the sign of art, beauty and harmony. Minerva had some say in this also. The Goddess of Wisdom holds dominion in the Museum of Fine Arts at the top of the entry staircase in a mural called, “Architecture, Painting and Sculpture Protected by Minerva from the Ravages of Time.” The Gods and Goddesses are truly alive and well and ever present in our daily lives. Chirotic Time
"Time stood still, caught between the Pole Star, the Great Bear and the Southern Cross—though I do not know, for it is not my job to know, whether such in fact were the constellations, so numerous their vertices, their sidereal fires, mingled and combined, shuffling the allegories they symbolized." ¬—Alejo Carpentier
Kairos means “the loaded time” or “the time of bursting potential,” according to ancient Greek usage. Since the discovery of the new astronomical body, Chiron, some astrologers are now referring to as Chirotic time. Essentially synchronistic in nature, kairotic time opens the door to timeless eternity. “Eternity has nothing to do with time," said Joseph Campbell. “Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking in time cuts out....The experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life.” (Power of Myth) These are moments when something extraordinary catches our breath, reminding us of the universal life source. These are the “thin places” of Celtic mythology, places where the veil of illusion between the visible and invisible is most transparent. The experience of time is variable, highly individual and related to our state of consciousness. On the threshold of a consciousness shift or when synchronistic circumstance takes us by surprise, our sense of time is altered. We pass through a membrane of awareness, where time-space and soul meaning are aligned. Time curves from the gravity of meaning, bending around the curve of the spiral that alters our experience momentarily or inalterably. "Each time the world surprises us with its twisting time-bends, a shiver runs through our soul...time bends to meet the curve of our souls....Either we meet it half-way or we don’t." —Phil Cousineau, (In Once and Future Myths [I think], p3) Jean Houston talks of this kind of time in a collective sense: This is an incredibly kairotic time in history....we have extraordinary access to the sacred principles, powers and creations that are yearning at the crossroads of existence to enter into time. (in Hanon, Sacred Space, p143, quoting Lynn Aune, Sacred Psychology and the Rise of the Feminine: An Interview with Jean Houston, “ Women of Power, #12)