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The Teacher and Mentor

  by Estelle Daniels

In 1977, astronomer Charles Kowal discovered a new planetary body, orbiting between Saturn and Uranus. It was the first body discovered in that orbit. It was named Chiron, after the mythological being known as "King of the Centaurs".

What is Chiron? Its orbit in cosmological terms is unstable. It got to where it is roughly 250 million years ago and will leave that orbit in about 100 million years. Chiron ended up in that orbit after a gravitational encounter with another planet. Astronomers are still debating about what kind of body Chiron is. Some theories are:

1. A burned-out comet.

2. An asteroid pulled "off course".

3. A planetoid or escaped moon.

Astrologically, there is also controversy about Chiron. Soon after it was discovered, ephemerides (tables which show planets' placement) were calculated and it was retroactively put into charts. Astrologers started getting ideas about the nature and influence of Chiron. Other bodies in similar orbits have been found in the years since Chiron's discovery, and so Chiron isn't such a big deal anymore. Only about 25% of practicing astrologers use Chiron in charts.

Astrologers start with the mythology of the character the body is named after. The discoverer, Charles Kowal, named Chiron, and he had no astrological interests. But the Cosmos takes care of its own, and the name for each new body discovered in modern times has been "correct" for its' influence as it was determined by astrologers.

Mythologically, Chiron was a centaur, half man, half horse. He was the son of Chronos (Roman Saturn) who visited his mother Philyra in the form of a horse, so he was not of the breed of the rest of the centaurs. This made his nature more serious and noble and less wild and erratic than the other Centaurs. He was half-brother to Zeus (Jupiter). He ran a school that taught all the arts; martial arts, medical arts, political arts and also general knowledge and education. His martial school was one of the best and many of the heroes and demi-gods trained with him. His medical school and hospital was world renowned and Chiron himself was trained by Apollo the God of healing. Chiron's most famous medical student was Asclepius (Roman Aesculapius), "the father of medicine." Chiron's medicine was a blend of standard medicine and alternative healing methods, including spiritual healing. One famous tale tells how sick people would come to Chiron's hospital and would spend their first night in a special chamber in the cave. In the morning they would tell the doctor/priests their dreams, and supposedly in those dreams would be their diagnosis and suggested remedies for a complete cure. Chiron also taught herbs, diet and other forms of healing, similar to chiropractic, homeopathy, and energy healing.

Chiron's school for heroes was a blend of a university education, martial arts school and finishing school where the heroes learned statecraft, manners and diplomacy. To the Greeks, a person was supposed to be well-rounded, even a "mere warrior" was expected to have a good education, be ethical and well-mannered. The Kings were expected to be the best educated.

Heracles (Roman Hercules) was visiting Chiron's school. He brought with him poisoned arrows which had been dipped in Hydra's blood. Heracles got drunk (as he was prone to), and was fooling around while practicing archery. One of his arrows went wild and hit Chiron in the knee. Being an immortal, Chiron could not die, but the arrow was magically poisoned, so the wound never healed. Chiron was doomed to live an immortal life in unending pain. Because of this Chiron became a more gifted healer as now he could empathize with his patients because he too suffered. The unending pain eventually became too much to bear, and Chiron asked Zeus to withdraw his immortality so Chiron could die and end his torment. Zeus refused, for immortality was an attribute of the Gods and not something to be discarded.

Prometheus had given fire to mankind, defying Zeus, and had been given the eternal punishment of being chained to a rock and having his liver eaten out each day by an eagle, only to have it grow back again each night so the torment could start anew each dawn. After centuries of this, Heracles petitioned Zeus to end Prometheus' torment, and free him. Zeus said, of course, if you can find an immortal to die for him. Zeus had forgotten about Chiron and upon hearing this, Chiron decided to offer his life. Zeus was displeased, but honored his promise. Prometheus was freed and Chiron's immortality taken and he finally died from the poison. In recognition of his contributions and accomplishments Chiron was immortalized in the heavens as the constellation Centaurus the Centaur.

Chiron has many attributes. He is a teacher who teaches more than one subject, and strives for a well-rounded person. He is a healer, but one who is not immune to disease or injury, a healer who can transmute their own pain into a greater level of healing skill. Chiron also deals with the issues of quality of life and death and dying. Chiron is also a wise guide and mentor, someone who makes a good counselor to those in power, someone who is busy and works hard at many different things simultaneously. Chiron is also a maverick, though he was immortal, he dwelt apart from the Gods and interacted more with mortals than Gods.

Some astrologers consider Chiron an inconvenient benefic. He brings good things, but not without trouble or upset first. His symbol is a key, which opens new doors of knowledge, experience and opportunity. For you to see the new doors, old doors must be closed, and from there comes the pain which Chiron can bring for many would rather not give up the old before they know what the new will be. But Chiron's key will only work after your old options have gone, and you are in the dark. To take the key and open Chiron's doors takes faith in the future.

© 1997, 2003 Estelle Daniels, all rights reserved.