The Cave and the Arrow: Chiron Beyond the Wound


This is an article on Chiron in aspect to Mars.  For general comments on Chiron, please see “Chiron, an Overview.”

I’ve always thought that too much has been made of Chiron’s infamous wound, and not enough of his wisdom, his teaching, his skill, his role as guide to the muses, and his crucial role as the maker of heroes. Chiron is not a schmoe who happened to get poisoned with his own dart, like some ancient member of The Three Stooges. Chiron was a divine being fated to live as a mortal, yet in spite of that he spent his life in purposeful and meaningful action.  He didn’t spend his time bitching and complaining about not being able to party with the gods, not even when the fateful arrow bit him and his suffering became unbearable. It was at that point, and at that point only, that Chiron’s wound entered the picture. It prevented him from practicing his skill, and it was at that point he surrendered his immortality and fully expected to die a mortal death in exchange for the release of Prometheus.  Because of his sacrifice, the gods awarded Chiron his proper divinity. The point of Chiron’s suffering is the transcendence of suffering. The key is not the wound itself, but the limited existence that Chiron gives up willingly, for which the unexpected reward is divine immortality.

It is this conscious sacrifice that gives meaning and purpose to the Chiron myth.  Note I say conscious sacrifice.  Our Judeo-Christian world is keen on the idea that suffering itself gives life meaning.  And this allows folks to get the wrong end of the stick as far as Chiron is concerned.  It’s not about the suffering. Chiron’s wound is the initiator, the instigator of Chiron’s transcendence. It is part of a process, the dramatic twist at the end of a story. It is not an end in itself.  As someone here said recently in the comments column, “Wound Schmound…”  (Thank you, Donna.)

Too many of us get stuck at the ‘wound’ stage of Chiron. We can be a bit hypnotized by it. Chiron in the seventh longs for partnership. Chiron in the fifth thinks writing that book or getting that part or having a child will provide the answers. Chiron in the third wishes she could express the depths of her mind, or just learn how things work. Everything gets blamed on Chiron because it’s the pain that never heals, the one thing that we want to do but can’t do. Or is it? Funny thing about Chiron. Remember whose son he is. Chiron is fathered by Kronos, otherwise known as Saturn. And Saturn rules Time.

Often, where Chiron is, we build a life of ‘limited divinity.’ We know that we’re of the gods, that we’re immortal, we sense a greatness within us that never manifests. This is a world where we live without the help of the gods, and without recognition for the god within us. Life can be dull, mundane, full of effort where Chiron resides, and we long to be delivered. We tell ourselves that there is a key, just one thing that’s missing, and if we only had it, we could play up there on Olympus, too. Everyone would see who we really are, and we will be welcomed home where we belong. In the meantime we starve, isolated, lonely, with our noses pressed against the bakery window.

Problem is, where Chiron is, we can also build a false god, a false idea of what immortality means. Chiron may represent a hunger we create in our isolation and abandonment, and it may be a false hunger. It may cause us to think the answer is outside of ourselves, that we need validity of our immortality from the outside world. If only things would shift in our direction, we would be saved. People have tried to associate Chiron with a number of different signs, and I don’t really ascribe to any of them, but there is certainly something of the Virgo/Pisces polarity in Chiron, and I believe he guides the whole journey of the mutable signs: from knowledge (Gemini), to skill and mastery (Virgo), to wisdom and understanding (Sag), to universality (Pisces). If we stumble at any of these crossroads, we have a difficult time connecting our divine knowledge in any relevant way to the world around us. The only way to attain universality is to allow it to flow through us and filter it through an endless cycle of human experience.

It seems to me that Chiron is intrinsically tied to the Mars principle. Chiron is related to Mars through the infamous cut.  Mars is all about arrows (look at the glyph) and the wounds we can receive from arrows. (Ask an Aries if he has shot himself in the foot more than once or twice.) In the same way you cannot tell the story of Chiron without discussing the arrow, you cannot tell the story of Chiron without discussing Mars.  Mars represents what we do in the world, how we go after what we desire. It was a mis-aimed act of aggression that wounded Chiron. Mars/Chiron is the story of the way our actions and our focus must be honed and altered in order for us to transcend our limitations.  Chiron’s ‘wounds’ take many faces, but in the end it comes down to whether or not we can act on what we know in order to bypass our mortal stumbling blocks.

Chiron becomes a centaur by an accident of birth: he is the son of Kronos (Saturn) and the half-brother of Zeus. The story goes that Kronos tried to rape the nymph Philyra. In an attempt to avoid Kronos, Philyra turns herself into a horse. Ha ha, says Kronos, I can do that, too—so Chiron is born a centaur. His mother, thinking him hideous, rejects him (Whatever house Chiron resides in, some early, cruel rejection has taken place.). The stories vary, but eventually He is adopted by Apollo, who teaches him all he knows. (We are also inclined to be taken under a god’s wing where Chiron is, and find a great teacher, but we must first recognize a god when we see one.) Chiron instructs the heroes of mythology, teaches the great Asclepius how to heal, he teaches the Muses how to strut their stuff. So far, so good. Chiron’s own Mars was definitely intact.

The symbol for Mars itself is arrow-shaped, a masculine symbol, a symbol of one pointed energy, strength and virility. Look at Chiron’s own symbol. It’s called a key. Is it? Is the familiar “K” at the top the point of penetration? The center, the circle, is askew. And it is this inward turning that most frustrates and resonates with Chiron/Mars. Chiron/Mars understands that it must develop in stages, something that an active Mars is not keen on. It takes time, Saturn, to bring Chiron’s gifts to ripeness. Time, and darkness.

Part Two of “The Cave and the Arrow” next time.


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