July 12-December 16
Chiron is the next in line to station retrograde for the second half of the year. The transit begins today with perfect cosmic synchronicity, illustrating the myth of the centaur in the sky itself: as Chiron, Mars and asteroid Heracles tightly conjoin around 9° Aries, the Moon passes through, and the stray poison arrow, sprung from its bow, pierces the horseflesh. And from now until December, the story in the sign of the warrior becomes about the will to live, in spite of the pain that comes with being alive, narrated by the healer who couldn’t heal himself.
None of it would have happened if Heracles, cursed by Hera, hadn’t killed his family in a fit of madness. While fulfilling his sentence of twelve labors to atone for his crimes, the demigod found himself in uncivilized centaur territory, being offered a meal of raw meat. When he opened a cask of wine to make it more palatable, the scent of the alcohol drew the other centaurs to the place, and being a wild, raucous bunch, soon everyone started to kick off. The drinking quickly devolved into fighting, arrows started flying, and one, from the quiver of Heracles, dipped in Hydra blood, hit Chiron, wounding him in the leg. It would have been a horrible, but mercifully quick, way to die—if you were a mortal. But Chiron was immortal, and as skilled a healer as he was, there was no cure for the poison, so he was forced to bear the unending pain. Heracles, desperate to make things right, conceived of a solution for his old friend. He arranged with Zeus to allow Chiron to trade his immortality for the life of the tortured Prometheus, languishing in Tartarus. Thus Chiron was finally able to die, and be released, both from the suffering, and from his strange anatomy that had always felt so monstrous.
Astronomically, Chiron is an asteroid, or a planetoid, orbiting erratically out there between Saturn and Uranus. Astrologically, we are only just beginning to learn from him, as he’s only been in our awareness since 1977. But we can think of him as a bridge, between the personal and the collective, a bringer of wisdom that informs humans’ experience of our own humanity. Archetypally, he is the mentor, the healer and the outsider. Mythologically, he is the wise and just centaur, the solitary but beloved teacher to every young ancient Greek culture hero, whose earliest memories were the horror and rejection of his mother.
Chiron’s strangeness and suffering were through no fault of his own, and his injury was incurred in a fight that he took no part in. You could say the same for any of us, so much pain being undeserved and born out of a time before we were even born. Wounds that are perpetrated and perpetuated out of other people’s unhealed wounds; or that come from being the victim of circumstance; or from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught in the crosshairs of chaos. Whether those wounds are physical, emotional, societal or ancestral, it is a universal experience to suffer from things we cannot change but to try to do the best we can. Chiron and Heracles remind us that, even for immortals, things aren’t always fair, but we should still strive to make them so.
Chiron retrograde is a call to examine the ways in which we’ve been hurt, and to let our wounds be recognized and heard, so that they don’t cause further harm to ourselves or to those around us. Blaming others only gets us so far; at some point we have to take responsibility for our own healing. In the first decan of Aries, we are likely looking at the collateral damage of war, domestic violence, sexual recklessness, alcoholism and abandonment—to the soul, to the individual and to society. This transit is also asking us to face the ways in which we’ve felt different, rejected or excluded, and instead of letting it breed poison, to let it lead to compassion and inclusion. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to look at the ways in which we have been the cause of others’ pain, or made them feel excluded, and to transmute those experiences through acts of atonement and kindness. Chiron is reminding us that we all have something to teach others—some form of wisdom, knowledge or skill. And that our differentness does not detract from our goodness and unique contribution to the world. In our differentness, we often find our greatest gifts.