The Cave and the Arrow: Chiron Beyond The Wound (Part Two)


We have to talk about Chiron in terms of desire, and Mars, because desire IS the wound. We desire what we feel we will never receive or achieve in Chiron’s house. It hurts because we want it so badly. Whatever it is will validate us, and if we had that thing, we would become whole.

The pain of this unrequited desire will cause us to retreat into our own particular darkness, so black sometimes that we cannot see our direction, so black that we cannot see our hand in front of our eyes. We know we must turn our backs on the ordinary world in order to focus on what really matters.  The tribe cannot give us our value system, so we must acknowledge our passions (Chiron was, after all, a Centaur) and forge them into something greater. Chiron’s cave is both our darkness and our salvation, and we must willingly enter into it.

This famous cave is not some magical hollow where if we only hide ourselves there for long enough, wisdom is our reward. We don’t retreat into it like a  metaphorical egg, biding our time until we hatch out one day, perfectly and brilliantly. The cave is where we confront our loss and our confusion.  It’s the place we rail against the lack of fairness in the world. This is the place we’re most lost, even though we know where we are, and that’s the hurt of it. To quote Elvis Costello, “This is the place where I made my best mistakes.”*

Often, where Chiron is, we’re doing our best and we don’t even know what’s wrong, why it isn’t working for us.  The ensuing depression has more to do with frustration, anger, and despair at our inability to move forward than it does about not feeling positive about ourselves or the outcome. Anyone who has been through a long and painful Chiron transit will tell you that there is as much suffering in confusion and uncertainty as there is in any kind of loss, grief, or physical pain, and the worst of it is that there is no compassion in this Western world, none at all, for confusion. We are not allowed to be uncertain, unsure, scared of the dark. We are not allowed to hesitate, or tremble at the brink.

And this uncertainly is what happens in an exaggerated fashion when Chiron touches Mars, the symbol of virility on all levels:  physical, psychological, spiritual.  Mars, by definition, is our desire and the action we take to obtain it.  Chiron/Mars, in the beginning at least, is about our sad, fumbling attempts to make the desire manifest.

There is much to be learned from the fact that Chiron, essentially, is wounded by his own hand. He concocted the very poison that he cannot undo.  Where Chiron is concerned, and especially when Chiron is tied to Mars, our wisdom can hurt, because we are constantly at war with our limitations.  There is a haunting with Chiron, an often unacknowledged pulling at the heart that says, “I did this to myself.” The more we understand of what we desire, and the closer we get to it, the more limited we feel. That war with our desires leaves us exhausted, and empty, purposeless.  And if Mars needs anything with Chiron, it needs a purpose.

Chiron/Mars can be devastating in sexual terms.  Often, we feel as if we are not accepted as sexual beings, or that there is something wrong with our sexual expression.  We may not respond sexually as the others in the tribe seem to, and what we desire may seem very different.  Chiron/Mars is prone to sexual rejection, and it may take itself out of the mating game for long periods of time.  Often, there is an early, cruel rejection that leaves deep scars that only time and distance can soften.  Sometimes the animal nature of Chiron can take over with Chiron/Mars, and Chiron can move forward in a ‘damn the torpedoes’ kind of way.  What usually happens is that Mars ends up not only unsatisfied by the pursuit, but torn further.  The wound isn’t made better, but worse for the aggression.

And yet, Chiron/Mars has a sexual magnetism that is unmistakable—to those who are evolved enough to respond to its relentless intimacy and its healing vibe. Mars/Chiron can be fiercely sexual—whether or not it expresses its desires, the urge to sexual union and sexual healing through that union will be primal. Like Moon/Chiron, which needs to learn that its body is a vehicle for divine energy, Mars/Chiron will instinctively hunger for spiritual fulfillment through sexual contact, whether it knows it or not. This can lead Mars/Chiron to go down a lot of blind alleyways searching for redemption through sexuality. Eventually, through repetitive painful sexual experiences, Mars/Chiron will understand that the energy it embodies needs to be shared consciously, and with acceptance. If Mars is very repressed, there can be difficulties about expressing sexual desires, with Mars consciously or subconsciously blaming itself for its needs and hungers. When Mars/Chiron works well, there is a raw openness combined with awareness, and a lack of fear of losing oneself through other.

Chiron’s impulse to heal is very strong when Chiron touches Mars.  Something needs to be healed in the house Chiron occupies, and with Chiron/Mars there can be a real determination to achieve a resolution to the difficulties there, in spite of the stumbling.  Chiron/Mars will be determined to master something, especially in either, or both, houses the aspect falls in.  There is a drive towards achievement that will run quietly and deeply as a theme throughout the life, and will continue long after others have done their own half-hearted work and gone home.  Chiron/Mars may be just getting started when others are thinking about their retirement accounts.

The key to getting beyond the wound with any Chiron aspect, but particularly Chiron/Mars, lies in learning to divorce the desires of the ego from the desires of the soul.  This is a tall order, but necessary if we want to use Chiron in any kind of constructive fashion.  He’s a bit Plutonian in that way, but a kinder, gentler, more patient Pluto, without the killer instinct or the schadenfreude.  Chiron’s focus is the wisdom to be gathered and dispersed, not the journey (to death and back) itself.  What Chiron asks us to do is to take a step outward, outside of the perspective of the ego, and see what it is the soul is asking of us.  Over time, Chiron learns to stop asking questions of the ego and begins to ask them of the Watcher within us, the observer, the One Who Knows.  When Chiron begins to deal directly with the Watcher within, it can often be astonishing how things fall into place for us.  That is, if we can get out of our own way.

Where Chiron resides, we have a service to perform for the benefit of others.  Often, it is just to the right or left of those initial, ego-centric desires, but we couldn’t see the path because the ego was blocking our view.  We’re meant to use our skills and fulfill our desires in a way that is just off-center of our original impulse.  When we understand this, we will also understand that we have not lived our lives in vain pursuit, but that the wisdom of the soul guided us in the right direction in spite of ourselves.  Chiron is symbolic of the shamanic journey, of the travelling to other worlds and other planes of existence in order to bring back knowledge in its right place and time.  Note I say ‘right place and time’ because sometimes we are not ready for certain kinds of knowledge, and Chiron knows that, too.  With wisdom comes good judgment.

Ironically, it is often the battery that we get from the outer planets that initiates Chiron’s deliverance, and especially where Mars is concerned.  On the one hand, Chiron gets beaten up by the outer planets because he isn’t ready (i.e. hasn’t shed enough ego in order to be of use to the transpersonals).  On the other hand, he gets beaten up by Saturn, who clings to his  earthly defenses and won’t let Chiron in.  But a funny thing happens in the middle of Chiron getting his block knocked off.  He learns to speak both the language of the transpersonals and the very different language of Saturn, and he begins to translate.  And they find that, though they want very different things, they will need, in fact, to work together.

Saturn cannot achieve the inner authority it craves without allowing a chink in the armour so that the wisdom of the outer planets (via Chiron) can seep in and inform his day to day operations.  The outer planets, eventually, realize that there is no point to transformation unless there is a concrete result, which is the one thing Saturn is very good at.  There is something poetic in that it’s the limitations of Saturn that cause Chiron’s initial wounding, but it is in getting beyond these very limitations that allow Chiron to inherit his legacy of immortality.

The skill and the mastery associated with Chiron is very much a product of this interaction between the outer planets and Saturn.  Again, Chiron is a part of the process, not an end in itself.  The ‘death’ associated with Chiron is the death of the ego, and the promised eternity comes via his surrender to something greater.  Chiron’s motivation in his sacrifice was to end Prometheus’ suffering, not his own.  It’s important to remember what was Prometheus’ initial crime.  He brought fire–light and warmth–to mankind.  I’m sure that Chiron found in Prometheus a kindred spirit. The houses of both Chiron and Saturn, and aspects to Chiron and Saturn, will tell you a lot about the Chironic knowledge gained and how it should be used.

You’ll find that a mysterious, almost alchemical thing happens when we begin to tap into our pure Chiron energy and work with it in real terms.  All of the lower octave planets become elevated and begin to resonate with the higher, much the way a tuning fork will ring all the same tones on a piano, no matter high or low.  Mercury will become more Uranian, Venus will attune with Neptune, and Mars will find some of the pure, soul-driven focus of Pluto.  Far from being blocked by Saturn, we move beyond him to effectively become transpersonal beings, guided by the soul’s dictates, and nothing else.

Chiron/Mars may be one of the most painful combination of Chiron and a planet, but it is also, I believe, the most rewarding.  Think of all the initiating energy of Mars, backed with wisdom, compassion and experience, devoted to the elevation of not only our own awareness, but the awareness of all who come into contact with us.  Now that’s what I call mastery.

There will be further discussion of Chiron Beyond the Wound in the newsletter, The Widening Gyre.



“Our Little Angel” copyright c Declan McManus (Elvis Costello) 1986.








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