Posteado por: alejandrolodi | 18 marzo, 2010

Resilience and the Astrological Chiron

Alejandro Lodi

The concept of resilience and its relationship with the meaning of Chiron in Astrology.

Introduction.

Among the most original concepts the field of psychology has produced, that of “Resilience” has gained the widest diffusion. It is attributed to the investigator Boris Cyrulnik and, in a certain way, it inherits the psychological tradition related to Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy, and the humanist or positive psychology of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, among others. Along with these schools, resiliency investigators agree on focusing on a preferential issue: the inherent pain of the human condition and its  meaning on the psychological development of the individuals.

From the astrological point of view, human suffering is traditionally adressed linked to certain indicators: Saturn as the limit which painfully frustrates our longing for happiness, the conscious finitude and its consequent wound, and Pluto as the intense tearing  of death, the destructive and transformative power which pierces and constitutes us. On the other hand, the quest for meaning and the trascendence from death and suffering has found in Jupiter and Neptune its preferential significants. Both functions refer to another order of reality, distinct from the human one, and close to the divine, a dimension beyond temporal limits which dissolves and redeems the inherent pain of the experience in the matter.

Yet, astrology also generates news. One of the most recent among them is another celestial indicator which is starting to be incorporated to the astrological analysis (or at least, its inclusion is being debated) and which has as a central theme the inevitable pain of the human condition and the mistery of healing: Chiron.

This current work deals with  the affinity between the psychological concept of resiliency and the meaning of Chiron as an astrological planetary function, on how the investigations and reflections developed from psychology meet the symbols and perceptions with which astrology approaches that feature of the inner reality of human beings. The goal is that, as far as these correspondences are evidenced as true, our work as astrologers may be nurtured with conceptual tools that collaborate with the richness of our symbolic universe, and that our perception of human complexity may broaden as it finds resources to adress it with more delicacy and discernment.

At the end, we will present three cases of remarkable people, examples of human lives in which the resilient talent makes itself eloquent, and will analyze Chiron’s meaning on their charts.

The Resiliency concept in Psychology.

The term “resiliency” comes from the physics field, and it refers to the material’s capacity to return to their original form after some external impact has forced them to deform.

Applied to human behaviour, this concept is used to refer to the possibility of overcoming life’s painful events, turning them into opportunities for the ripening and unfolding of a fuller meaning of their own existence. This conclusion arrives from the observation and investigation of individuals who were subdued in their childhood to the most traumatic events, and who, nevertheless, later knew how to adapt to society and unfold their talents. Even more, resiliency suggests that it is precisely the fact of having gone through that adversity, that pain, that wound, is what gave them the possibility to actualize that potential, in such a way that those extreme suffering experiences during their childhood ended representing the oportunity for the discovery of a profound richness in that being.

So, resiliency is not only the capacity to face misfortune and know how to adapt to difficult situations, but also (and fundamentally), to emerge strengthened by the contact with talents unknown of up to that moment. In this way, it is neither to return to the original state previous to the critical event, nor to anesthetize or block up the contact with the hurting. It is not denying the facts, or promoting the “nothing has ever happened here” attitude. On the contrary, it deals with not interrupting the evolutive development and awakening a talent while going through the crisis that provokes the trauma, transforming it in the activator of a potential concealed up to that moment.

The resiliency specialists coincide in not presenting it as a special attribute of exceptional beings, but as a specific function within the psychic system: the capacity of adopting a healthy and operative form in the world when one is forced to deform under the action of external circumstances. Certainly, it is clear that this function can be more or less developed in the individual, and for one or the other variant to become present, the key is the action of others. So, an essential feature of resiliency

is that it is an individual as much as a social capacity, so that its inhibition or stimulation depends not so much on the personal disposition as on the vincular interaction. It is not by any means the mere innate ability of the individual person, but fundamentally resiliency speaks to us of inner resources which are activated due to the significant participation of an other. This brings to the fore love as the key to the resilient talent’s emergence. This is the reason why the importance of the presence of a significant adult is emphasized, so that he or she may stimulate the resiliency possibilities during the time the child goes through the traumatic crisis. In the case of adults, we could talk about the need of a significant other who acts as a resiliency agent, among other keys such as humour, creativity, introspection, initiative, morality and self-esteem.

Diverse authors who have investigated the subject also mention three fountains or pillars of resiliency: the concrete and material support (I have), the will and psychic strength (I am), and the interpersonal abilities for resolution (I can).

The experience of pain and the will to meaning.

The psychologist Viktor Frankl created a therapeutic current – logotherapy – based on his own experience with pain. During nazism he was sent to a concentration camp. There he observed that those who survived were the ones who could give some meaning to that suffering, those who knew that a task to be fulfilled was waiting for them, while the ones overwhelmed by the meaningless of it all, though being physically stronger, could not overcome the experience.

Frankl sustained that the first motivating strength of the human being is the struggle to find a meaning to his own life, and he spoke of a will to meaning (1), as true and present as the will to pleasure and the will to power. That  will to meaning is not an individual’s expression or an imaginary construction, nor an act of faith, but a factual issue, a discovery, a revelation. He affirmed that the main interest of the being is to fulfill a meaning and to realize its moral principles. So, he did not hesitate, in his therapy, in challenging the human being to carry out its potential meaning, to awake its significance will from its latency state.

For Frankl it is not a question of proposing oneself the aim of discharging the tension between “what one is” and “what one isn’t”, the anguish of existence , but to feel the call of a potential meaning waiting for us to be fulfilled. It is not the meaning of life in abstract philosophical terms which matters, but the concrete significance of each individual’s life at a given moment.

So we must not ask ourselves what our life’s meaning is, but rather begin to perceive that, truly, it is life that inquires us.

And the suffering, inherent to human condition, is one of the ways, (not the only one) in which the meaning of life can be discovered. In this way, suffering represents the opportunity for realizing a supreme value, and what matters most is the attitude we take towards suffering, our attitude while going through it, for suffering ceases being such the moment it finds a meaning.

In the same way, the psychologist Carl Rogers emphasizes on what he recognizes as an action which tends towards totality and expresses itself in every manifestation of life. He affirms that it is possible to recognize a directional process in life, that in the human being’s case translates as a basic force that moves him to “the constructive realization of his intrinsic possibilities”(2). Defining what he calls the “actualizing tendency”, an existing force on every living organism, by which the human being tends naturally “towards a more complex and complete development”.(3)

Rogers sustains that the tendency towards the fulfillment of potentialities can be threatened and tested by external impacts, but that it persists even in the most unfavorable conditions. To this effect, he affirms that “the actualizing tendency can be wrecked or twisted, but it cannot be destroyed without destroying the organism.”(4)

But Rogers says something else. Not only can we trust that in each human being the actualizing tendency towards the whole and the  fulfillment of his own potential is present, but there even exists the possibility to consciously focus our attention on this tendency. That means, our conscience can participate in this realization tendency, opening to the perception of a more ample and creative flow than the strictly personal.

Chiron as a planetary function in astrology.

Within the structure of planetary functions, Chiron has been associated with the mythic image of the wounded healer. This symbol alludes to a profound wisdom concerning pain, to such an intimate knowledge of suffering, that it ends transforming in a curative talent, but with the particular characteristic that it can only be practised to relieve ailment in others, not one’s own. That is to say, Chiron refers to an ever-open wound in ourselves which allows to develop compassion for those suffering it, and to accompany its healing. Chiron combines comprehension and pain, wisdom and compassion, knowledge and healing talent. We know about that suffering because it hurts ourselves, because we are present in that pain, not because we have overcome it and blocked it up in the past.

And this combination of personal experience of a wound, and healing capacity, this condition of being “wounded” and “healer” is the one which brings more richness when it comes to deciphering this symbol. It is not just simply about “someone who suffers” or “someone who heals”, but about one who can heal because he suffers. The paradox here is that we cannot choose just one of the positions, but that Chiron seems  to give us not an option, but to experience simultaneously both sensations, to undergo that authentic double bond: to heal others by knowledge of that wound, without being able to cure it in ourselves.

In a natal chart, Chiron’s position by sign, house and aspect (mainly by house and aspects) will indicate us where we are going to experiment that wound, in which area of life the challenge may be manifest. It signals a dimension of our existence in which we feel living a stigma, a fate-provoked mark that we cannot elude. The trace of a painful event that we live as a fatality. Yet, even though we might had not chosen it voluntarily, this fatality summons us to a certain direction, it reveals a sense in our life that has much more to do with the social or collective sphere (the others) than with that strictly personal (I). This way, Chiron seems to symbolize the compulsive call, without an option, to a challenge which we would prefer not to participate of if we had the chance to choose. This evidences the transpersonal characteristic, rather than the personal, of this planetary function. That which in the personal appears as a senseless experience (an absurd pain, a cruel fatality), gains a clear sense when blooming to the transpersonal dimension.

From the Christian mysticism, Anselm Grün exposes this “leap to scale”(5) that the contact with incomprehensible pain provokes. For Grün, that unanswered pain exposes us to the personal impotence, to the unexplainable. It forces us to abandon our necessity of rational certainty and to have to face the mistery. And this allows the emergence of new capacities, of inedited dimensions which start to unfold in our existence. Thus that “leap to scale” becomes clear , from the talents of the individual personality (personal achievement and rational understanding), to the talents of the soul (universal love and compassion).

In this way that senseless pain goes on committing us with the ripening of a more profound dimension of being (and more complex and inexplicable for the same reasons), than that of our individual and personal life. This transpersonal dimension begins to reveal a sense, a subtle but highly convincing vocational call, which we may feel as “not chosen” from our personal decision, but of which we have the opportunity to be more and more conscious.

In accordance with what has been exposed up to here, it results quite evident that Chiron’s symbolism seems to be a synthesis of the Pluto and Jupiter functions: the contact with pain and the capacity to perceive a trascendent sense, the healing talent and the wisdom that springs from our wounds. In our astrological practice, this correspondence of planetary functions makes it advisable that when it comes to analyze any of them, we should have the others in mind as well. That  is, the positions of Chiron, Jupiter and Pluto give information that refers to the same theme. The three planets represent congruent psychic functions and mutually affect themselves, so that the richness of any profound interpretation of any of them requires an effort in synthesis and integration with the rest.

On the other hand, in Greek mythology, Chiron is the son of a relation between Cronus (Saturn) and Philyra. The attraction Cronus feels for Philyra is basically instinctive, to the point that they copulate adopting an animal form: that of horses. Because of that, the offspring of that relation is a centaur. Chiron is the first centaur, a horrid half-human, half-animal being. His father does not recognize him, and his mother rejects him, not only because he is the fruit of an unwanted relation, but because of his monstrous look.

So the rejection feeling appears there where we need to be acknowledged the most. Chiron refers to the feeling of exclusion, of being rejected by a stigmatizing difference of which we are absolutely not responsible of. This rejection generates the feeling of lacking the grace which others enjoy, of carrying a deficit which impedes to embody, a constitutive and irreparable mark which we must deal with in life.

Because of this Howard Sasportas links Chiron to a feeling of disability (6), which may be as physical and psychological as spiritual, and that may even result explicit and be manifested under the shape of an illness, a pathology or  accidental fate events.

Now, it is interesting to consider that this feeling of disability is highly intertwined with comparing oneself to others. Beyond the degree of objective manifestation that that difference may present, it is in the comparison with what we think as habitual in others that the pain of being different begins to be felt. It is evident that having a centaur’s body in a world of centaurs implies no traumatic feeling at all.

For that reason, concerning Chiron’s wound, it is fundamental to look after the relationship  with the others. It is not that the bond with others will magically provide the solution to the trauma, but that it allows to develop the perception that each being bears a wound –more visible or hidden, more exposed or guarded- and that the profound sense of our own stigma lies in being able to be sensitive to the one in others, and help in its cure. On the contrary, retracted on the individual isolation, the resentment over the prejudice of not being “the same as the others” will become unbearable.

As it happens with the resilient talent, the others are necessary participants for an  unexpected talent to rise from pain and reveal its trascendent meaning. The bond with our own wound is, at the same time, a bond with the others. Contact with pain cannot leave aside contact with what is human. The work with Chiron must not be undertaken by the I alone, it will not be an individual merit nor a personal conquest of a brave achievement, but rather, the intimate summoning of Chiron  sprouts and is revealed in the opening to others, in the embrace to humankind. It is a personal call that must unfold in the collective, in the transpersonal.

In this light,  considering that Chiron was discovered in 1977, it results of significance to appreciate to which events on a planetary scale its apparition was synchronic with, in relation to the symbolism that has been adjudged. Sasportas underlines its coincidency with the diffusion of the psychological therapy and alternative medicines, as they represent searches to find a meaning for pain and make its cure effective (7). On her part, Melanie Reinhart associates it with the growing interest in chamanism, as a way to reconcile the instinctive and the spiritual, and to emphasize the need to trust our internal guides or teachers (8). We could add to these relations the rise that the practice of donating and transplanting organs started to gain towards the end of the 70’s: the possibility that personal death may be useful to give life to others, the pain of the loss making sense in a life reborn. On the other hand, Chiron orbits (in an erratic mode and a 50 years revolution) between the course of Saturn and Uranus. That is, Chiron has one foot on the world of the saturnine form, and the other in the transpersonal one. According to its centaur condition, one half of his being responds to the earthly and the other half to the heavenly. He was also a master of war as much as of healing, he was wise concerning that which causes wounds as that which heals them. This finds its correspondence in the human condition, pierced by its animal, instinctive and material nature as by its capacity to answer with conscience to its more subtle, vibratory and spiritual nature. Chiron is not one thing or the other, but rather both dimensions integrated in the same function: by the own personal wound of having incarnated and inhabited a body, and the resonance with what is universal in that wound from which the wisdom and talent to heal it in others emerge. In this way,  a trascendental vision is combined in Chiron with a practical sense, a perception of the transpersonal which continues participating in the personal experience, a capacity to see beyond, without losing grip with real life.

Now, we could say that, as individuals, our first answers to the inherent pain of the condition of being alive will be reactive. It is possible to observe that, facing those fate situations which summon us to go through pain, the first thing we experiment are defensive and repelling reactions, which clearly manifest the impossibility to include and assimilate them in what is immediate. There  are two preferential ways to react to Chiron´s wound.

.-Denial. Here the variants are many and range from the unconscious amnesia, to blocking contact with the experience, or the very early adjudication of a trascendental meaning to the painful event (God’s will, karma dragged from past lives, a mission I was chosen for, etc.). In this case, that sense ascribed to the traumatic episode does not emerge in a natural way from contact with pain, it does not include or comprehends it, but rather denies or tries to repress it. In his book “To fight and love”, Anselm Grün proposes us to “renounce to theologically illuminate the causes and sense of our suffering”, for, resigning to find an explanation, “something new can arise in us, which strengthens us to start anew and make our life richer than it was”.(9)

.-Victimization. In this case what prevails is the feeling of being injured by an external will, which infringes our suffering. Someone is identified as guilty for that situation in which we feel as victims. Certainly, it is often possible that an objective agent of submission exists, one who causes the traumatic experience on purpose, which favors all of the event’s significance to close on that only cause, thus blocking the apparition of any trascendental meaning. On relation to this mechanism, Grün refers to a kind of suffering “that can’t be fought or defeated any longer”, and which is necessary to reconcile with; he does not ignore how hard this task is, but he also transmits us his conviction that, when we accept pain and see it as a challenge, it is then transformed in an important teacher.(10)

Victimization can present an active or passive character. In the case of active victimization, the person resists and confronts whoever he has identified as the one to blame for his suffering. While in the passive victimization, the person feels impotent, dejected in the submission, and he retracts in the complaint,  the sorrow and the sour feeling of his unavoidable misfortune.

It is interesting to perceive that in denial the jupiterian component of Chiron’s symbol prevails over the plutonian: the yearning for trascendence nullifies the contact with pain. While that in victimization (whether active or passive) the plutonian component imposes over the jupiterian: the suffering is overwhelming and it is not possible to perceive any kind of meaning. In one case there is “meaning without pain” (denial), and in the other “pain without meaning” (victimization). It is obvious that none of the two can represent an adequate answer to what Chiron profoundly requires from us: the experience of meaning that blooms from the pain which opresses us, the wise peace that is revealed in the wound that cannot be silenced. The mystic and religious scholar Huston Smith refers to this paradox with precise and delicate words:

“The peace which arrives when a hungry person finds food, when a sick man heals, or when a lonely person finds a friend, that kind of peace is understandable. But the peace that surpasses all understanding arrives when life’s suffering is not alleviated. This shines in the crest of pain’s wave; it is the suffering’s harpoon transformed into a ray of light.” (11)

On his hand, Grün describes it by saying:

“(Those) who have had to face suffering and have gone through it shine with a peculiar light. They have achieved true wisdom. Suffering has softened them, and has initiated them in the most unfathomable of mysteries… They radiate something more important than an external wealth. The internal richness that gleams in them amply exceeds whichever one they let glimpse out before going through the suffering… From them springs the wisdom that could teach us today the way to live in plenitude.” (12)

The wounded healer and the resilient talent.

From what has been exposed, the correspondencies between the resiliency quality and Chiron’s symbolism seem quite explicit. The resilient talent which, as we have defined before, implies “the possibility to overcome life’s painful events, transforming them in opportunities to mature and the unfolding of a fuller meaning of our own existence”, results clearly akin with Chiron’s function of waking up to an innate wisdom (not personal, but a wisdom from life itself which is revealed in us as we are part of it) that permits to accede a profound (transpersonal) meaning from the painful experiences which can’t be explained.

On the other hand, in the mythological tale, Chiron is abandoned by his parents and adopted by Apollo, who instructs him, transmits his knowledge and stimulates his abilities. It is evident that in this story Apollo represents the significant adult, the resiliency stimulating agent, that B. Cyrulnik mentions as a necessary condition for waking up the resilient talent in the child submitted to the traumatic experience. In the same way, the developement of the chironian function requires stepping out from the withdrawal into the individual (in which it is only possible to experiment the meaningless wound, thus strengthening the feeling of disability) to open to the encounter with the others. The apparition of that significant other represents that much-needed stimuli, an activator of the healing talent that is kept in a latency state until the moment of the meeting, blocked up by the feeling of being victims of an injustice, of being injured by a situation which “should not be happening”.

Continuing with the mythological, it is interesting to notice that, besides suffering from the lack of affection and recognition from his parents, Chiron carries a physical wound provoked by an arrow shot, in a drunken state, by Hercules. It is not a minor fact that Chiron’s physical disability has been provoked by a “drunken hero”. Considering Hercules as a solar hero archetype, the story seems to be telling us that it is precisely the fascination of the I, the spells of the ego with its omnipotence fantasies, which profoundly gives rise to our disability feeling.

When the challenge that Chiron brings upon our lives is lived from a conscience excessively folded upon the ego, cristallized in the feeling of an exclusive and independent I, the experience of the wound tends to be trapped in the comparison trauma, in the polarisation (denial-victimization), or in the feeling of a “meaningless pain” or a “painless meaning”. So, in the same way as in resiliency, the key for the resolution of this conflict –which seems to perpetuate itself- lies in the need for a trascendent meaning beyond the I, that is, a meaning has to manifest, but one of a completely different nature than that which we can reach from the sense of being an individual entity, separated from any greater process. In this way, Chiron represents a pain which demands humility, and humility is a distinctive characteristic of the chironian wisdom.

Just as Chiron, the resilient talent does not dissolve pain, but rather gives it meaning. It makes us not forget the pain, but dissolves instead the inertial tendency to remain identified with suffering. The attachment to suffering is linked to the meaningless feeling, to remain locked in the hurting experience, asking “why?”. Pain is able –it knows how- to include meaning; it is not a meaning that shifts pain and occupies its place, but a meaning which nurtures itself in the contact with pain, and allows us to ask “what for?”.

From resiliency and Chiron, the meaning that blooms from pain is related to the actualization of a vital direction that regenerates and gives new strength to existence. It has nothing to do with finding explanations, spotting the one to blame or discovering the reasons which may seem to justify the traumatic event. Truly, there is a plane in which facts, responsible agents and reasons that explain it may exist, and it is always convenient to discern which objective agents provoke or infringe traumatic situations. It is not about denying this factic dimension, but rather perceiving that, for the emergence of this revitalizing existential direction, it is insufficient to remain solely in there. Resiliency and the chironian challenge do not invite us to look for a justification for pain, but to discover what meaning has been revealed in it. They do not summon us to find a cause for pain (a why, a guilty one, a responsible one in the past), but to be witnesses and participate maybe in an unexpected direction which blooms from it (a what for, a summoner, a responsible one in the future).

If we give an excessively defined form to the meaning we believe we are discovering, we could not avoid falling in the contradiction of pretending to explain the mistery, and, doing so, nullyfing it as such. Meaning manifests itself through clues, not voluntary or rational ones, nor proclaimed by any religious authority. Meaning is intuited in the depth of the soul. What gives us the conviction that meaning is true is not the solidity of rational arguments nor theological interpretations, but the clarity of explicit and sudden intuitions. We can never be sure before a definitive meaning, or a mission which manifests itself as definitive and that we already know in a doubtless way, but instead we experiment the feeling of being summoned, of being guided towards a direction that always leaves something open.

In this sense, that chironian-resilient orientation remains manifest in the tracks our steps leave while we think we are maybe going adrift, carrying our wound. It represents a timely direction, an apparent drift that truly leads to a good harbour. An implicit meaning (transpersonal) which is revealed in a meaningless experience (personal).

Truly, this orientation operating on our fate does not stop to ask us if we agree or not with the challenge, nor presents itself as one more option among others for us to choose from. Using a quote from Frankl (referred to moral principles), we could say that the resilient-chironian talent “does not move nor push a man, but rather pulls him on” (13). It is a capacity that is not reduced to operate in the events field, in the factic experience, where facts result unchangeable and unavoidable, but it fundamentally activates itself and operates in the meaning dimension, of the living experience, where the meaning of events varies in accord with conscience. And it does not only allows to discriminate between the events and meanings, happenings and experiences, but focuses attention, not as much in “what happened”, but rather in “how what happened is lived”.

The chironian-resilient capacity demands giving out the way of appreciating reality in a polarized mode: to evaluate facts in “positive-negative” terms, to asume “optimistic-pesimistic” postures, to judge life from the “benefit-loss” logic, or to identify ourselves with any of the “denial-victimization” game mechanisms. Only exhausting and consummating our tendency towards polarization can the perception of a much more paradoxical dimension of existence be enabled. To this we are summoned by the chironian function and the resilient key: each crisis, each pain, each tragedy is, at the same time, a source of suffering and an opportunity.

It  is in no way  easy to live, nor has it  the least meaning to propose it as a purpose or objective to be reached. Neither can we be sure of when some key about the chance represented by this pain which overwhelms us is going to manifest itself. We can only be alert and trust that some presence, some look, some voice, or any apparently hazardous fact gives us some hint: for what is this pain opportune?

And here it is not about some kind of theoretical-rational, or theological-devotional answer, but rather existential and experiental: it can only be known by living, it is not previous to the living experience. Going back to Frankl, we could say now that we shall not ask which is the meaning of our pain, but that it is life whom, through that pain, questions us.

Each man is questioned about life and can only answer to life answering for his own life; only  by being responsible he can answer to life. (14)

If we accept that “love” means “inclusion capacity”, resiliency and Chiron’s symbol place us before a quite delicate paradox: to love pain. To love means to include, understand, recognize. It does not mean to desire, to deny. It is the revelation of a full trust in the life-death pulse, a pulse that is accepted though it exceeds personal control. Truly, this has got nothing to do with purposedly provoking painful experiences, for “suffering will mean nothing unless it is absolutely necessary”.(15)

To love pain means to accept the life-death, even if not only “what I want” happens, knowing that this pulse responds to the mistery, that which can’t be explained. The resilient-chironian challenge will ask from us, in some moment of our life, sooner or later, to love the life-death, conscious of being functional to a process that can’t look after our particular luck. It teaches us that there exists a deep reality that it is more creatively complex than just what our personal yearnings can imaginarily conceive.

To develop a conscience of life-death, this is, to include death (and thus pain) inside life’s process, not as a part, but as a substantial presence, inseparable from what we recognize as life, presuposes a loving capacity of comprehension, a wisdom concerning the paradoxical experience of what is real, with its dark and luminous side. And this appears not only symbolized in Chiron, but it represents the complex passage from Scorpio to Sagitarius as well, in our zodiacal journey. It implies recovering the contact with the bodily pulsion –and therefore, the contact with death-

as a base for an expansion of conscience toward planes of spiritual trascendency. Here the centaur character in Chiron gains a particular significance: a being with two halves which respond, each of them, to different natures and, yet, conform a single process.

Instinct and pulsion take part in the spirit’s activity, and we are a fountain of both pleasure and pain. Pain is part of the spiritual process. That which from our view as incarnated beings, as entities compromised with the coordinates of time and space, appears as horrendous and cruel (the sinister), is a necessary part in a vastly life process, to which we are awaken and summoned from our inexplicable pain.

Keys for astrological interpretation.

I will define now some keys for Chiron’s interpretation in a natal chart. Previously we must remember that having perceived correspondences between Chiron and resiliency does not amount to reducing one concept for the other. Resilient talent appears in a natal chart expressed, not only by Chiron, but also by the Jupiter-Pluto relation and by the eighth, ninth and twelfth houses’ play. Yet, the proposal is to concentrate specifically in Chiron’s situation, to make as clear as possible that what is revealed in a chart , assuming the risk of fragmentation that such trimming presupposes.

I will not do a characteriological description of each of Chiron’s positions by sign, house and aspect. It is not the goal of this work. Those interested in details of such kind can consult what has already been published on the matter. Some of those works are presented in the bibliography featured at the end of our exposition, such as The twelve houses by Howard Sasportas and Chiron and the healing journey by Melanie Reinhart.

Some keys to take into account for the interpretation of Chiron are:

  • By sign: The sign in which Chiron is placed in a natal chart speaks about the quality with which the person will express the Chironian function in his life. The same as with every slow planet, the sign characteristics of Chiron will not give very personal clues, but rather collective or generational, or, in any case, it results fundamental to combine them with the position by house to obtain more individual keys. With reservations, we can say that Chiron’s position by sign will indicate in which zodiacal quality the person will experiment a wound, a feeling of disability, or a deficit. The presence of this complex in the experience of that sign’s energy will result in a summon for conscience, and in a compromise of fate for that person in his learning. Through the sensation of a pain that does not cease, Chiron represents a persistent call for the individual to develop a more and more wiser expression of the qualities of that zodiac sign.
  • By house: the house in which Chiron is placed reveals in which area of experience, in which life theme the person has got to find the experience of pain. Same as any planet by house, its effect is usually much more visible and related to objective facts than by sign. Many times the distinctive characters of each house (brothers for the third, sons for the fifth, couple for the seventh, etc.) can embody the “master-guide” as much as “the guilty” or “the victim”, that is, they can be the resilient agent as much as the one identified as responsible for the painful situation or as the one who suffers it.
  • Emphasis on the opposite house: One of the most notable characteristics of Chiron by house is the emphasis on the opposite house. As a means of compensation, the difficulty to bear the wound in the themes of the house in which Chiron is placed provokes the person to develop the opposite house’s themes in a very objective, and in certain cases almost obssesive, way. At first it can seem a quest promoted by the need of relief to decompress, or making the accumulated pain’s burden more bearable. But, many times, the opposite house to that where Chiron is, brings fundamental keys to start perceiving the meaning of the experienced trauma, for resiliency to start revealing itself.
  • By aspect: Every planet in aspect with Chiron will represent a planetary function preferentially linked with the experience of pain and trascendent meaning. The same as with the houses, the person will be able to live the chironian challenge through the character archetypically associated to the planet. In the case of the conjunction aspect, that planet’s participation becomes more evident.
  • Transits: Every transit of Chiron over another natal planet or cusp of the natal house, and every transit of a planet over the natal position of Chiron (in particular in a hard –or tension- aspect) represents potential activating moments of the Chironian thematic in life, being it in favour of the manifestation of a traumatic event or of the emergence of the resilient talent . The transit of Chiron itself over planets and natal cusps seems to result more notorious in regard to the synchronicity with events concerning pain and meaning.

Three notable cases

I will present the analysis of Chiron in the natal charts of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Frida Kahlo and Estela de Carlotto. It is not the study of each one of them, but a trimming which permits us to corroborate some of the hypothesis expressed concerning the relation between Chiron and resiliency. Certainly, the choice of cases is deliberately so, and results insufficient to demonstrate  definitely what this work proposes. May they be useful then  to illustrate that maybe in these three examples the proposal seems to be verified.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

July 8   1926

22:45  CET

Zurich (Switzerland)

Zone – 01:00

008E32

47N23

Ascendant 11  27’   Pisces

MidHeaven 21 36’ Sagittarius

Her chart shows Chiron in Taurus, in the cusp of the second house, and with a sextile aspect to the moon. The correspondence between the taurine quality and the second house’s own themes allows to suppose that the chironian wound will be related with her vital resources, with being in touch with life’s force, with her spring of innate values and talents, with the concrete physical expression, with the potency and enjoyment of the corporal senses, and her capacity to shape in the material world. Accordingly, Chiron’s  aspect to the moon speaks of a particular sensibility to the wound of being a mother, to the experience of tenderness, care and protection associated with pain.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is a swiss medical doctor who has dedicated her life to research the issue of death. She revolutionized the way of considering terminal patients, created attention centres for AIDS-stricken children, and travelled worldwide giving lectures about the nature of death and how to accompany the process of those who are going through it. Her life is not without polemics, but she is acknowledged as one of the main authorities in the subject, and she had the courage to face cultural prejudices to speak free of taboos abouth death.

As a child she built a miniature hospital where she played curing little animals and insects. She was a volunteer for the aid of refugees in the nazism epoch. She worked with prostitutes who suffered from venereal diseases. She was a relief worker in Poland after World War II, working with survivors from concentration camps. And finally, bored with the formality of hospitalary labour, she dedicated her life to that kind of patient whom, hidden and rejected, no one wanted to take care of, the terminally ill.

It seems evident that it is a life attracted by the thematic of the eighth house . The public and professional life of Kübler-Ross brings out the emphasis in the issues of the house opposite to Chiron. But, how does Chiron appear in Taurus and in the second house?.

The birth of Kübler-Ross was traumatic. She was the first born of triplets, and because of her low birth weight (900 grs.) they did not believe she was going to survive. Due to her physical fragility, she felt that she had to strive more than the others, that she had to prove her worth and was deserving of respect. The feeling of disability provoked by Chiron’s wound in Taurus and the second house.

When she is five years old, her family moves to the country, and there she falls seriously ill. She is confined to a room which she shares with a moribund girl. This resulted a key experience in her life. She feels she begins to have a telepathic communication with this girl. They become friends, and she accompanies her death naturally, she feels she knows more than the doctors, who did not treat that girl as they should.

On the other hand, adding the moon’s aspect with Chiron in Taurus in the second house, her own maternity experience was hard and complex. She suffers many spontaneous abortions and the doctors diagnoses that she will never be a mother. Nevertheless, she insists on her search, and is able to give birth to a boy, but she herself almost dies in the childbearing.

Finally, it is important to point out that with her compromise with the theme of death and terminal illness, Kübler-Ross starts having transpersonal contact experiences: she perceives the presence of patients already dead, takes part in spiritism sessions, gets interested in the reincarnation theme, etc.. Besides she begins to engage herself in social assistance issues: she works in jails, creates centers for confinement and caring of terminal patients, plans to adopt AIDS-stricken children…All that with an objective: that contact with pain and death may be in a natural enviroment. She invests all of her money in buying a farm in Virginia, EEUU, where to install her center. She concentrates all her possesions and work there.

And in these circumstances a highly symbolic episode of Chiron in Taurus and in the second house suddenly happened (and the eighth house as complementary emphasis).

Let’s let Kübler-Ross herself relate it:

The simple life of the farm was everything to me. Nothing relaxed me more after a long plane journey than arriving at the winding road that went up my house. The silence of the night was more sedating than a somniferous. In the morning I was awakened by the symphony composed by cows, horses, chicken, pigs, donkeys, each speaking in its own tongue. Their noise was their way of welcoming me. The fields stretched out of sight, shining as freshly fallen dew. The old trees offered their silent wisdom to me…

My life.

My soul was there.

Then, on october the 6th, 1994, they burned down my house.

It was completely burnt down to the floor, and was a total loss for me. The fire destroyed all my papers. Everything I had was turned to ashes.(16)

Neighbours and reactionary groups of the zone, upset by the concentration of moribunds and sick children that the presence of the Kübler-Ross center implied, tried to eliminate what they could not stand to see: their own pain and death. In August of 1994, two months before the fire, Chiron in transit was touching the cusp of the natal seventh house, opening a period which would extend up to the beginnings of 1997, at the same time making square to natal Venus: a propitious moment to make contact with the wound and the pain of loss, from the scenery of complementary bonds and the encounter with others (and, in classical terminology, “of the visible enemies”).

The wounded healer is a mythical image which reminds us that the pain, in which we develop a profound wisdom where the capacity of healing it in others awakens, is never healed completely in ourselves. In this point, Kübler-Ross taught thousands of people with love and support, to accept their death, to go through it in a natural way; yet, her own death represented a complex experience that made her express:

Death is essentially a marvelous and positive experience, but the process of dying, when prolongued as mine, is a nightmare…I know that if I stopped being bitter, furious and resentful of my state, and said yes to this end of my life, I could take off, live in a better place and have a better life. But as I am quite stubborn and challenging, I have to learn my last lessons the hard way. Just like all the others. (17)

Frida Kahlo

July 6, 1907

08:30 LMT

Coyoacán (Mexico)

Zone 00:00

099W10

19N20

Ascendant 23  31’ Leo

MidHeaven 23  20’ Taurus

Her chart shows Chiron in Aquarius and in the sixth house without relevant aspects. Through Aquarius, the Chironian wound appears linked to the expression of liberty and creativity, the qualitiy of innovation and renewal, while through the sixth house the experience of pain tends to manifestate in themes related to functional adaptation to the environment, to physical and psychological health, and service activities.

Frida Kahlo was one of the most acknowledged American artists, and it results very interesting to follow the trail of how that vocation for art manifests in her life, for Chiron brings a valuable information about the matter.

Kahlo was born in Mexico. Being five years old she falls ill with poliomyelitis, remaining convalescent for nine months. Her right leg got thin and her foot stayed behind in growth, gaining her the nickname of “Frida, la coja” (Frida, the lame). As a teenager, she joins the communist youth, seduced by the winds of change of the epoch, and by the cultural movement called “Mexicanismo” (mexicanism), which starts the fight against illiteracy, and stands in favour of social equality, indigenous integration and the autochthonous regain. Interested by natural sciences, biology, zoology and anatomy, she decides to study medicine.

But in 1925 a traumatic event will change the course of her life: in a streetcar accident that resulted in several people dead and injured, Frida is pierced by a handrail through her abdomen. The gravity of the wound has her convalescent for two years, and she could never wholly recover. For nine months she has to use a corset due to the fracture of a lumbar vertebra. Immobilized for her recovery, Frida seeks refuge in reading, particulary about the Russian revolution and its ideals, and in painting, adapting an easel to her bed and placing a mirror to use herself as a model. Soon, painting will become the center of her life.

She undergoes multiple surgery operations, but her physical deterioration proves irreversible. She yearns to be able to develop a political activity, and to experience motherhood, to turn into “Diego Rivera’s woman”, even if that would mean giving up painting. Yet, her body does not permit it. She undergoes two abortions, one of them risking her life, and finally resigns her yearning. Progressively, fate leads Frida to remain prostrated in her bed, painting.

In Frida’s case, Chiron’s position in the sixth house seems to clearly manifest. The “wound that never heals” is her own physical health, early stricken by poliomyelitis and definitively stressed by the accident. Theoretically speaking, her first vocational option, medicine, seems very suitable for the talent of explicitly curing the physical health of others, which can be adjudged to Chiron in the sixth house.

Yet, Frida did not develop a career as a medical doctor, but answered the calling of the opposite house: the twelfth. What seems to have given meaning to her pain, to the ailment of her physical deterioration, has been the expression of her suffering in images. And it did not just result a cathartic way to bear her wound, but rather, with her pictures, with the power of those images, she attained an unthought-of collective resonance, an empathy with human pain, not simply “Frida’s”. And this profound human compassion that her works inspire, truly exceeds all ideological barriers, goes beyond the world of political postures and ideas. Her images hit in the collective unconscious and are engraved, whether Frida had proposed to do it or not, in a sacred dimension of the human experience of pain.

Estela de Carlotto

October 22   1930

09:00 AST

Buenos Aires (Argentine)

Zone +04:00

058W27

34s36

Ascendant 03  48’ Capricorn

MidHeaven 15  38’ Virgo

Her chart shows Chiron in Taurus, in the fifth house, with aspects of quincunx to Mercury and of sextile to the conjunction Jupiter-Pluto.

We have already commented in the Kübler-Ross case that Chiron in Taurus suggests that the Chironian wound will have to do with the contact with life’s strength, with the power and enjoyment of corporal senses and its capacity to turn potential talents into material resources.

Chiron in the fifth house tells us that the pain, from which a profound vital meaning will emerge, is linked to the thematic of creative expression, the sons, the capacity to be distinguished as singular beings, and the activities that we carry out from the heart, without the intermediation of any personal benefit’s speculation. Now, considering the character, the opposite house and its thematic stand out in relief: the participation in social groups, in vincular nets, organizations and systems, in the interaction with others and the development of a group’s conscience. In the same way, Chiron’s aspect with Mercury results relevant in considering that it is the regent of MidHeaven, and links the chironian function to the place one occupies in society, to the experience of pain with the social position from which honours and acknowledgment are obtained; on the other hand, the Jupiter-Pluto sextile points to the learning of a meaning which springs out from pain, of a vital direction that is revealed in existence from going through situations that lead to the limit of what one believes can stand.

All Argentines are familiar with Estela’s story. Having proposed herself a simple and anonymous life, the experience of pain takes her to a fate unthought of. In the year 1977 her daughter Laura, pregnant with whom would be her grandson, is kidnapped by paramilitary forces, and reclused in a clandestine center. There she gives birth to a child and is later executioned, without any official information being given. Estela gets the body of her daughter back, is lied about the surroundings of her death, and the existence of her grandson is denied. Her grandson is secretly and illegally given to another familiy.

Near 1977 Chiron transited the fifth house again. It had reached the cusp in 1974, starting a long transit through that house (up to 1983, the end of the military dictatorship), during which it would be in opposition to the Sun (1976-1977), and opposition to the Moon (1978). Chiron´s transit to the natal Sun is synchronic with Laura’s kidnapping, a moment in which Estela’s identity –that who she believed she was, and whom she was identified with- is shaken by the traumatic impact that exposes her to the situation of transforming and awakening to an unknown talent, to a resilient capacity hitherto not actualized, or to remain trapped in victimization and resentment. While Chiron’s transit to the Moon is synchronic to Laura’s death and later delivery of her body, this is the moment of her entering the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, (Plaza de Mayo Mothers), that would later give origin to a more and more serious compromise with the flowering of her resiliency potential, more fully conformed at the moment of Chiron’s return (1980), and her focusing in the work of grandchildren restitution, with the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Plaza de Mayo Grandmothers).

From that traumatic episode on, Estela’s life is transformed. The experience of Chiron in the fifth house, the pain at the loss of a daughter and the open wound of not knowing the whereabouts of her grandson, forces her to make contact with a suffering to which she could only find meaning developing themes from the eleventh house: not focusing exclusively in the search of her grandson, but organizing a group of grandmothers who, like her, suffered from that absence. In this way, Estela began discovering herself as a net leader, of a group of individuals who multiplied their strength assembling, collaborating with solidarity to sustain each other through the pain, and obtain information which could let them know about their grandchildren.

Even though her own wound has not been healed, (her own grandson has not been recovered yet), through the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, the net she generated and leads, she has become an effective resilient agent, and finding many other grandchildren, curing the pain of others, and maybe, curing her own pain in devoting herself up.

(Traducción Ricardo Messina Sánchez)

Bibliography (en español)

[1] Frankl, Viktor. El hombre en busca de sentido. Editorial Herder, pág. 98.

2 Rogers, Carl. El camino del ser. Kairós, pág. 63.

3 Rogers, Carl. El camino del ser. Kairós, pág. 63.

4 Rogers, Carl. El camino del ser. Kairós, pág. 64.

5 Grün, Anselm. ¿Por qué a mí?. Ágape y otros, cap. 1 y 2.

6 Sasportas Howard. Las doce casas. Ed. Urano, pág. 381.

7 Sasportas, Howard. Las Doce casas. Ed. Urano, pág. 381.

8 Reinhart, Melaine. Significado y simbolismo de Quirón. Ed. Urano, cap. 1.

9 Grün, Anslem. Luchar y amar. Ed. San Pablo, pág 148.

10 Grün, Anslem. Luchar y amar. Ed. San Pablo, pág 149.

11Smith, Huston. La percepción divina. Kairós, pág 102.

12 Grün, Anslem. Luchar y amar. Ed. San Pablo, pág 149.

13 Frankl, Víctor. El hombre en busca de sentido. Ed Herder, pág. 100.

14 Frankl, Víctor. El hombre en busca de sentido. Ed Herder, pág. 108.

15 Frankl, Víctor. El hombre en busca de sentido. Ed Herder, pág. 111.

16 Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth. La rueda de la vida. Byblos, pág. 17.

17 Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth. La rueda de la vida. Byblos, pág 381.

 (Translation Ricardo Messina Sánchez)

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