Chiron: Mythology & Symbolism, The Roof & Return, and Healing

Chiron was discovered on November 1st, 1977 in Pasadena, California by the American astronomer Charles T. Kowal. The newly discovered celestial body did not fit into existing categories and has been reclassified several times as an asteroid, a comet, and a ‘planetoid’. In astronomy, it holds dual classification as comet 95P and Minor Planet 2060, but in Human Design and astrology it’s simply referred to as “Chiron” or “Kiron”.

As a planetary body, Chiron is relatively small, only 180km in diameter. It has a “cometary” tail as long as 300,000 km which is sometimes visible and other times not. Interestingly, after Chiron was discovered, many astronomers began to notice the object in older images going back as far as the late 1800s. Its orbit around the Sun can vary widely, but most of the time it is positioned between Saturn and Uranus, which apparently was connected to its naming and carries over to some of its meaning in the birth chart.

Illustration of Chiron as a Centaur

Chiron was perhaps the greatest Centaur in classical Greek mythology. Chiron’s mother Philyra was an Oceanid or sea nymph who turned herself into a horse while trying to escape from Zeus’ affection and interests. However, Zeus prevailed and impregnated her. When she gave birth, the newborn was half-human and half-horse. She was so horrified with being the mother of a “monster” that she prayed to the gods to change her into a tree which ultimately led to Chiron being abandoned by both parents when her wish was granted. Chiron was rescued by a shepherd who took him to the Sun god Apollo with whom he went through various initiation rites and learned medicine, music, and other skills. Chiron became a skilled healer and teacher who tutored Achilles, Asclepius, Hercules, Jason, and other heroes. In the Greek myth, Chiron is accidentally pierced by a poisoned arrow shot by his student Heracles. Since his father was a god, Chiron was immortal, and could not die nor could he heal himself. He prayed to the gods to relieve him of his suffering and let him die. In gratitude for his teachings, they gave him his wish and placed him in the sky on Mount Olympus with the other gods.

In an astrological context, Chiron is often associated with themes of wounding and healing in the natal chart and planetary transits (when the current position of Chiron is active within the birth chart). In keeping with the mythology, the placement of Chiron the “Wounded Healer”, can represent where there is an opportunity to grow and learn through a healing crisis or conscious confrontation of that which appears to afflict or hold us back.

We can often see these themes play out in situations where an individual experiences some form of trauma in early life. Instead of allowing it to be their undoing, they accept it as it is, and learn from it, and ultimately transcend the suffering by developing mastery and greater awareness in that area and being an example to others. A common example might be someone who experienced chronic illness in their childhood and through their own research and experimentation learned how to heal themselves and began teaching and working with others to do the same. Or the parent who lost a child to a traumatic event or illness and assumed a role of working to raise awareness of the situation or condition in the collective.

The Symbolism of Chiron

Symbolic of its position in the Solar System between Saturn and Uranus, Chiron is also seen as a bridge between the traditional or conventional structures and the new or revolutionary. We can see this in the Greek root ‘cheir’ (meaning hand) of the name which is shared with the Chiropractic profession that has elements of conventional medical practice combined with more alternative or holistic approaches to health and healing. We can also recognize this theme of integrating two worlds through the symbolism of the Centaur being half-human and half-animal.

With Chiron’s spending most of its time outside the orbit of Saturn (which symbolically represents the limits of the material world), Chiron can also bring up themes of ‘exile’ or areas where we feel outside of the herd or conventional narrative in some way. There may be an experience of being different, unique, or not understood – themes related to Uranus (a planet often associated with liberation, individuality, and freedom).

Chiron Glyph

In keeping with this symbolism, graphically Chiron is shown as a glyph of a “key” that some associate with transcendence and moving beyond the limits of three-dimensional reality and into higher levels of awareness and consciousness, merging heaven and earth so to speak. Chiron can represent where we break out of our secure but often limiting reality constructs (Saturn) into the transpersonal, and the wounding that can be experienced in the process. Like Chiron’s relatively small size as a celestial body located beyond the limits of what can be seen by the unaided eye, it can also describe things that are invisible or that seem insignificant, but in actuality are quite powerful. Chiron seems to represent something beyond our common or mundane understanding that transcends and synthesizes what came before with the potential of the future.

When looked at within the context of the larger life story we may see that Chiron may indeed hold the key to the liberation and transcendence which ultimately bring an experience of integration and healing. And yet for all of the symbolism and meaning associated with Chiron in mythology and astronomically, it still appears to defy exact categorization for many practicing astrologers and analysts.

Coming Off The Roof

In Human Design, Chiron is best known for the role it plays in the overall story where one enters into the third (and often last) stage of life at the age of approximately 50 years. This is the “Coming Off The Roof” transition for the 6th Line most commonly referenced for those with 6th Lines in their Profile like the 6/2, 6/3, 4/6, and 3/6 (the line activations of the Personality and Design Suns).

For all of us, this time brings the potential blooming of our gifts and the expression of what we have to offer to others. For the 6th Line Profiles mentioned above, it signals a time where there is the possibility of re-engaging in life more fully as oneself with greater awareness of where we have been and the life we’re here to have. For the 6th Line, the first phase is a more experimental and trial and error period running from birth to the Saturn Return at the age of 28-29. This is when the 6th Line is operating more like a 3rd Line where the focus is on experimenting with the material (Saturn) realities in the process of gaining experience of what it means to be an individual.

The second phase of life, from the Saturn Return around age 29 until about 50, is more observational and removed, with the mind or body spending these years relatively disengaged, distant, or aloof in some way. This phase is focused on healing or recovering from the first phase, and when the individual can begin to establish their own authority, objectivity, and regain some optimism for what lies ahead. Interestingly, a lot of individuals seem to resist this phase, feeling like they can’t or don’t have permission to pull back, rest, or take a different approach to life.

As 6th Line Profiles approach the age of 50, they begin the process of re-entering life in a more direct and engaging way as a leader, visionary, or Role Model. This is someone who ‘walks their talk’ with integrity based on the experiences and learning of the first thirty years of life combined with the development of one’s seeing and objectivity in the second phase of life. From the roof, the 6th Line has a transcendent view that goes beyond the other line frequencies in the hexagram. It can see what came before as well as what is coming next.

It’s said that life truly begins at 50 for those with 6th Line Profiles or a predominance of 6th Lines in their design. Depending on whether the individual has the 6th Profile Line on the Black or Red side of one’s design, the process will be experienced through the Mind or Body respectively. A 6/2 Profile will experience the three-phase process through the mind and their consciousness where a 4/6 Profile would experience these transitions through their body and form.

The Chiron Return Cycle Chart

In Human Design life cycle analysis, a chart is run for the time that Chiron returns to the exact degree of its placement in the native’s birth chart. The cycle chart will show the same position of Chiron along with other planetary positions at the time of the return. In the interpretation, much of the focus is placed on the Cycle Cross (Sun/Earth on the Personality and Design sides) along with its Profile lines and the Nodal configuration. One can also look at the Gate and Channel activations created by overlaying the return chart with the activations in the birth chart as personal and educational themes to be worked with during that phase of life.

Here is an example using Robert Smith’s birth chart (left) and his Chiron Return chart (right). Robert Smith is the leader, singer/songwriter, guitar player, and only consistent original member of the British rock band ‘The Cure’. His Chiron return occurred on February 24th, 2010 at the age of 50 years.

The Cycle Cross is the Right Angle Cross of Planning 1 with a 1/3 Profile. What this tells us is that one of the main themes of his third phase of life is investigating and experimenting with his connection to family and community and how to move forward into the future with a sense of focus and skillful expression.

With his 1st line body (5/1 Profile), investigation and introspection is probably something already familiar to Robert. And here at 50, it moves out front into his awareness – that he might find more security in the potential of the bonds that have been in place over the years and come together with a greater sense of connection and support as he moves into the later stages of life.

The Chiron Return Nodes represent the environment Robert is here to experience and learn about in this third stage of life. When we look to the Nodal gates of the Chiron Return chart we have the 54.6 and 53.6 on the Personality side and 61.2 and 62.2 on the Design side. The 61/62 suggests that he might find himself in a mentally influenced environment of establishing the truth and facts of where he currently stands in his life story. The 54/53 on the Personality side is oriented towards seeing who is ambitious and driven in starting a new cycle of growth and development with his band and work.

The Cure’s Robert Smith

We’ve already seen that the return chart brings in the ‘Educational’ Channel of Community (37-40) in the Cycle Cross as well as the Channel of Awareness (61-24). The 61-24 is the ‘Design of a Thinker’ which is about individual knowing. During this time, Robert may have experienced mental pressure to know the truth or perhaps to explore the deeper mysteries of life. This may have been a process of coming to his own awareness of what it all meant or better yet to know that life is a mystery and he will never figure it all out.

We can look to the Personal influences coming in from the Gate activations with the return bringing in Gate 52 connecting with his natal Gate 9 creating the Channel of Concentration, and Gate 30 connecting with his natal Gate 41 creating the Channel of Recognition. Since these influences potentially span decades over the third phase of life, they may not show up in the life as discrete peoples and events, but rather the background themes that support the full expression of his purpose and role in the totality. The 52-9 Channel of Concentration brings a focus to his life as a whole with the 41-30 Channel of Recognition bringing the desire for an experience that may feel fated in some way. Whether this focus and these experiences are correct for him will depend on his Sacral response and instincts in the moment with whatever life brings in.

Wounding and Healing

One can also derive more insight into how the themes of “wounding” play out in Robert’s life story by taking a deeper look at Chiron’s placement in the birth chart or BodyGraph along with the Chiron Return Cycle chart. In the birth chart, the Gate and Line position of Personality Chiron can provide deeper insight into the core themes of wounding the person is here to work with.

The Gate and Line position of the Design Chiron in the birth chart represents the work to be done to heal that wound, and the Design Chiron in the Return Chart represents the resolution. Note: If you’re also interested in the astrological view of Chiron Return, you can of course look to the sign and house placement of Chiron in the astrological birth chart along with any planetary aspects to Chiron. The house position of the ruling planet of Chiron’s sign placement can provide more information on what is behind or supports the healing process.

MMI Software

While Chiron does not play a role in activating the Gates of the BodyGraph in Human Design, it’s position can be found in the Maia Mechanics Imaging (MMI) software under the Planetary Information in the side panel. The Genetic Matrix application does include the Gate and Line position of Chiron in the return chart in one of the views of the birth chart.

If we look at the placement of his Personality Chiron in the natal and return charts, it is in Gate 30.3. The Design Chiron in Robert’s natal chart is Gate 49.3 and the Design Chiron in the return chart is in Gate 49.4. Gate 30 is the Gate of Desire or “The Clinging Fire” in the original interpretation of the I Ching. It is also the Gate of the Fates and represents a focused desire for a specific feeling or experience. The 3rd Line of Gate 30 has the keynote of “Resignation”:

  • Exaltation: “The awareness and manifestation of the law of regeneration. The laws of Karma, reincarnation and resurrection. The feeling to accept what is.”
  • Detriment: “The tendency by its very knowledge to encourage or avoid despair. The positive or negative feelings which come with acceptance of what is.”

This placement suggests that Robert may feel a sense of resignation around “the acceptance of what is” and of fatedness in terms of his karma. There could be an experience of despair and wounding earlier in life in the conditions of his upbringing which bring a certain desire to establish the principles which can support his tribe and the important emotional bonds in his life.

His natal Design Chiron is in the 3rd Line of Gate 49 which is “Revolution” in the I Ching and the Gate of Principles in Human Design. The 3rd Line keynote is “Popular Discontent”:

  • Exaltation: “The ability to destroy antiquated forms once the restrictions have been removed. The potential in sensitivity to reject failed principles or relationships.”
  • Detriment: “Pluto in detriment, with general support, a savageness in eliminating the old order that may permanently scar the new. An insensitivity in rejection and rejecting.”

The natal Design Chiron represents the “work” that he is here to do in order to heal that wound, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to see that Robert built a very successful career with his expression of “Popular Discontent”. The Cure were never ones to follow old forms but instead rejected the fate that they were seemingly given to remain as outsiders in the English town of Crawley which Lol Tolhurst, original member, drummer, and keyboardist described in his book “Cured: A Tale of Two Imaginary Boys” as the “bland, dreary, greyness of the suburban swamp”. From very early on, Robert and the band established their own principles behind the synthesis of early influences and musical styles to create their own distinctive sound and unique popular appeal.

The “resolution” of this “work” to heal the wound is shown by the placement of his Design Chiron in the Cycle Chart in Gate 49 Line 4 “Platform”:

  • Exaltation: “A political and social agenda, embodied in guarantees to human rights that ensures a just and valued replacement of the old order. A potential sensitivity to the needs of society.”
  • Detriment: “Promises, promises, promises and only to guarantee support with little possibility of implementation. A potential to insensitively take advantage of the needs of society.”

It can certainly be said that Robert Smith has a very large “platform” as the voice, face, and indisputable leader of a very successful rock band. But what is more interesting to consider are the social and political themes implied here. One of the things that Lol Tolhurst talks about quite a bit in his book is the connection that The Cure had with its fans who tend to have a very strong emotional bond with the band and what they represent in the musical world.

The influence of The Cure could be underestimated as just another successful British rock band, but the truth is that Robert Smith and The Cure mean a lot more than that to so many people who feel supported and part of something larger. In other words, the band seemed to represent a unique sensitivity to the darkness and lightness of the human experience. The band has always tried to be true to their principles and the needs of their fans even when experimenting with new approaches to making music and the somewhat revolving door of musicians who played alongside Robert.

To go one step further, we can look to any planets in the same Gate as Chiron in the chart or planetary activations on the other end of the channel to get more insight into the forces and frequencies associated with the themes of wounding. The Personality Mercury of the Chiron Return chart is also in Gate 49.4 which fixes the expression of the resolution into the Exaltation mentioned above. Personality Mercury represents one’s communication and I would expect that the expression of his voice and singing over the years would have been a very important part of the healing process for him.

In Closing

Whether you are a 6th Line Profile coming off the roof at the time of your Chiron Return or a 5/1 Profile like Robert Smith, Chiron, and its themes of wounding/healing, bridging the old and new, and transcendence can play a significant role in your life story. Within the context of the BodyGraph and Cycle Charts, Chiron can represent a process of individuation beyond the structures and constraints of the collective program and lead us to a more full expression of self and the gifts that we are here to share with others. Ultimately, it may represent our process of healing and integration as we return to the source.

If you are around the age of 50 and are interested in more deeply exploring the themes of your Chiron Return, John Cole and Amy Lee are available for individual Chiron Return sessions. Please click the preceding links for more information.

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