Chiron was discovered nearly thirty years ago on November 1, 1977. Astronomically, Chiron is classified as one of the Centaurs, a collection of minor planets found between Saturn and Uranus. However, because Chiron exhibited a “coma”, or tail, some astronomers wanted to classify Chiron as a comet. Currently, it is officially classified as BOTH a comet and a minor planet. Chiron’s orbit takes 50.7 years, but due to its elliptical orbit it moves through some signs much more quickly than others. It takes about 8 years to travel through Aries when it is farthest from the sun, and less than 1-1/2 years to travel through Libra.
In mythology Chiron was born of Philyra, mortal woman, and Saturn, immortal god. In order to escape Saturn’s amorous pursuit, Philyra had herself turned into a mare; however, Saturn outsmarted her and shapeshifted into a horse in order to accomplish his intention to rape her. When Chiron was born half horse and half man, like a Centaur, Philyra was so ashamed she abandoned him in a cave, thus establishing the deep psychic wound for which Chiron is well-known.
Being one-half god, Chiron was immortal and thus survived this early abandonment. He went on to study with the god Apollo, who some say became his foster father. There Chiron learned the arts of music and homeopathic healing, as well as skills such as archery, hunting, and the art of warmaking. He was wounded when a poison arrow struck him in the leg. Because he was partly immortal, the wound did not kill him but kept him in pain for the rest of his life. He achieved death by trading places with Prometheus, who had been bound to a rock by Zeus in punishment for mocking him. In allowing himself to be bound to the rock, Chiron released his immortality and was able to find peace through death.
Although Chiron was a Centaur, he is very different from other Centaurs in mythology who were known for their drunken worship of the vine and Dionysus, and enthusiasm for fighting. Some astrologers believe that Chiron is the Centaur associated with Sagittarius, but I do not believe that to be true. Chiron is remembered for his wisdom, and for his having been a mentor to some of the great heroes of Greek history, such as Asclepius, Jason of the Argonauts, Achilles, and Hercules. Faced with intensely difficult challenges, he overcame the limits placed upon him by his circumstances (astrologically represented by Saturn) and attained great wisdom and achievement in many aspects of life. I feel that Chiron is more accurately a ruler of Virgo along with Mercury, because of the concern of Virgo with the mind/body/soul connection. Virgo also struggles between the difficulties of being in mortal form and strives for greater wisdom and perfection.
The wound of Chiron is like a pebble in the shoe that continually reminds us of the split between our eternal self and our individual personality. Chiron’s discovery coincided with the eruption of the field of holistic medicine and the concept that disease can be healed by working with its root cause and not simply treated with drugs and surgery. The pain of Chiron’s wounds impels us to seek healing and personal growth by walking through the fire of the wound and transforming the pain into pure energy and light. The addition of Chiron into the astrological pantheon added a unique dimension that has been of immense value in counseling and healing the psyche as well as the body.