In this series we’re exploring how Chiron initiates you onto the path of individuation through a process of wounding and healing that unfolds in stages. This process can be mapped using the Chiron Cycle of transits to itself as it moves around your horoscope. These transits trigger the experiences you need in order to become the person you’re meant to be.
Chiron takes about 50 years to complete its orbit around the sun, but unlike other planets, it’s cycle is quite irregular. This is because its orbit is highly elliptical so it spends longer in some signs than others. For example, everybody will experience the Chiron Return at age 50, but the first sextile can happen at any time between ages 3 and 16 depending on the natal position of Chiron. Here are the ages for the main transits of the Chiron Cycle:
- 1st square – age 5 to 23
- Opposition – age 13 to 37
- 2nd square – age 27 to 44
- Return – age 50 to 51
The massive variation in ages for the early transits makes interpretation more difficult but some general principles can be applied. In fact, Melanie Reinhart encourages you not to interpret Chiron like the others planets, but to remain open to your experience and see what happens. Since Chiron is about the process of becoming yourself, it stands to reason that its transits would be highly individual in their effects.
It’s also important to remember that healing isn’t just about Chiron. You can’t isolate one part of the horoscope because it’s all interconnected. To heal, you need to draw on the whole chart – your whole being – but the experience will be focused through your Chiron placement.
The Chiron Cycle reveals how you grow towards wholeness and individuation by finding the gifts hidden within your wounds. Chiron transits provide opportunities to heal but you may often experience them as wounding to your ego. It can take some time before you’re ready to see the potential for healing, and that depends on how your Chiron Cycle plugs into the other major transits in your life.
For example, the process of growing up and maturing is governed by the Saturn Cycle, with the first Saturn square at age 7. But if your first Chiron square happens before that, it’s more likely to represent a period of unhappiness or wounding that causes problems later, such as physical illness. Early Chiron transits are more likely to be experienced as wounding by others, but whatever happens, these early wounds may repeat during the rest of the cycle. This doesn’t mean the same stuff keeps happening, but the same psychological archetypes will be re-triggered so you can learn to heal.
However, if your first Chiron square happens later you don’t get let off the hook. In fact, the later you experience the first square, the more you’ll tend to feel alone and wounded by life. This is because you have Chiron in a sign where the planet is furthest from the sun – and its most distant point occurs in Aries. You’re more likely to feel abandoned by the universe, like you’ve been left to deal with your wounds without help. But this also motivates you to wake up and return to wholeness.
Chiron transits can mark major turning points or events in your life. They represent an opportunity – or series of opportunities – to align with your deeper nature and allow it to manifest in the world. So these transits can trigger spiritual awakening, depending on the age at which they occur. But you may also repress or forget these transcendent experiences, especially if they’re not validated by others or the culture at large.
Barbara Hand Clow says the Chiron Cycle shows the timing of the awakening process as it unfolds in your life. So you may notice a pattern of development that runs through the whole cycle of transits. The main ones to watch are the hard angles: conjunction, square and opposition, but keep an eye on the sextiles and trines too. Also look at any other transits happening at the same time because they’ll influence the whole feel of the experience. Let’s have a closer look at each part of the cycle…
First Chiron Sextile
The first Chiron sextile happens between age 3 and 16, so it tends to be mostly unconscious in its effects. Most people don’t become aware of what they’re doing until later in the cycle, around the time of the opposition, but it depends on the age it happens and other transits. If you’re old enough, it may represent an opportunity to heal or discover your true purpose in life. You might start doing something now, such as a new hobby or interest that becomes important to your future path.
First Chiron Square
The first Chiron square happens between age 5 and 23, and depending on your age, may be when you first become conscious of your wounds. Experiences at this time reinforce your original wound but you might not fully understand the deeper meaning. If you do become aware of your wounds, you’ll have a strong motivation to try to heal, but you may not know how to do that yet.
It can also be a time of sudden awakenings or spiritual experiences that open your consciousness to a wider reality. This can be positive and/or negative, and you probably won’t be able to make sense of the experience until later in the cycle. Barbara Hand Clow says that most people forget what happens during this square because it’s so shocking. It can rip open your mind and reveal that your spirit is trapped in your body:
“At the first square, the piercing energy reminds us that we are not omnipotent, that we are chained on Earth, physically separate from the spiritual realms.”
She says this experience can cause you to disassociate from your body and can make reality feel dreamlike. It may be especially difficult for those who have been too focused on the material world because any spiritual experience will come as a shock. Obviously this depends on how much contact you’ve had with the spiritual realms before this time.
It also depends on how much access you have to the transpersonal planets in your chart. If you have a strongly placed Neptune, for example, it’s likely that you already have a strong sense of being cast out of Eden, especially if you have Neptune in hard aspect to Saturn. Chiron transits would then reinforce that feeling and push you to reconnect with your divine Self.
However, according to Barbara, it’s Chiron who gives you access to the spiritual realms so until you’ve had these experiences you won’t be able to consciously relate to Uranus, Neptune or Pluto. Personally, I’m not convinced this is true, but my experience probably isn’t representative – let me know what you think in the comments…
I had the first Chiron square when I was 19 and nothing remotely spiritual happened – not that I remember anyway – but it was a healing time. I was doing a lot of music and recording and felt happy because I had found my vocation. However, 18 months later I did have dissociative experiences and a spiritual awakening, but this was triggered by other transits, including Uranus square my natal Chiron. This was when I became conscious of my higher Self (more on that here: First Contact) but I still didn’t understand my wounds.
I’m strongly Neptunian and spent most of my childhood pining away with divine homesickness but didn’t know why. When I read Barbara’s description of an early Chiron square, it made a lot of sense to me. She says:
“Individuals who experience their first Chiron square before age 12 are systemically mystical, and they are so in touch with the other realms that they have severe boundary problems – difficulty knowing what is ‘self’ and what is ‘other’. They often tend to be negative toward their bodies, which they think of as prisons.”
This is a perfect description of my experience during childhood and is what led to my breakdown when I was 20. But I didn’t have the Chiron square until I was 19, so I double-checked my transits and lo! – I have Chiron retrograde which means I had a Chiron return when I was a baby. Around the same time as the return, I had a heart operation, so something must have happened to make me “systemically mystical” – more on that here… let’s get back to the Chiron Cycle.
First Chiron Trine
The first Chiron trine happens between age 8 and 29, and like the sextile, can be an opportunity to heal. You might meet people, such as teachers, healers, friends, or mentors, who can help you find solutions or inspire you to find your purpose in life. Depending on the age it happens, you might start to understand why you’re here and the deeper meaning of your wounds.
I experienced this transit at age 21 and it might have helped me to recover from my breakdown the year before. It’s hard to tell because I had some other heavy transits at the time, like Pluto opposite my natal Saturn. But perhaps Chiron was holding my hand and sending the guidance I needed – I certainly received plenty from somewhere. This was when I began to study astrology!
The Chiron opposition happens between age 13 and 37, and what happens depends on your age and whether you’ve become aware of your wounds prior to this time. This is the peak of the cycle and it may reveal something about the meaning of your life. It represents an opportunity to heal and may reflect your experience of the first square.
By now, you should be able to see your wounds more clearly and you may begin to understand how they’ve shaped the process of your awakening. This helps you to accept your shadow, balance the opposites within and start to become whole. If all goes well, you may become aware of the gift hidden within your wound.
This transit happens before the Uranus opposition of midlife, so if you haven’t started to heal and you’re still running away from your wounds, Uranus is more likely to tip you into a crisis in your late 30s/early 40s. But if you’re consciously working towards wholeness, the Uranus opposition is more likely to be a time of further awakening and healing.
I experienced the Chiron opposition when I was 25 and it was when my life finally settled down after my earlier troubles. As with the square, it was a healing time and I was having fun doing lots of music and recording. This was when I began to work as a sound engineer – my dream job! (more on that here: The Only Girl)
Second Chiron Trine
The second Chiron trine happens roughly between age 21 and 42 and is similar to the first trine. It can happen before, during or after the Uranus opposition so the timing is crucial and your experience will depend on whether you’ve been working consciously with the cycle so far. This represents an opportunity to heal and awaken to higher levels of consciousness. You might meet people who can help you to heal, or experience situations that move you closer to your life’s purpose.
Second Chiron Square
The second Chiron square happens roughly between age 27 and 44. Again, this can be before, during or after the Uranus opposition, so like the second trine, the timing will influence the outcome. It’s an opportunity for further healing and can be a creative time, but it depends on how the previous transits have gone and how aware you are of yourself as an individual.
Anything you haven’t healed yet will come up and demand to be dealt with. If it happens after the Uranus opposition, you’re likely to handle this well, as long as you’ve been working with your wounds. But if it happens before the Uranus opposition, there could be a lot of unfinished business to attend to. If both transits happen at the same time, your experience is likely to be intense but you should be able to heal to a deeper level too.
Whenever it happens, this is an opportunity to reconnect with your soul so you can manifest the truth of who you are. This is more difficult if you’re worried about trying to conform to what society expects of you. Following the path of individuation means you must be willing to go your own way. So if you haven’t done that until now, this could be when you become aware of how you’ve betrayed your own soul. But it’s never too late to start your journey towards awakening and heal the wounds of the past.
I experienced this square when I was 32, long before my Uranus opposition, and a lot of old crap came up that I had been running away from. It’s hard to tease out the Chiron influence from the other transits of the time, but by the end of the transit I had made some changes that went on to transform my life. Specifically, I stopped taking the Pill (evil!), stopped drinking booze, and started doing yoga. A year later, I had my first major satori and everything changed. (more on that here: Stop Making Sense)
Second Chiron Sextile
The second Chiron sextile is similar to the first and represents an opportunity to heal and manifest your true purpose in life. Again it can happen before, during or after the Uranus opposition, and as with the other transits, it depends on the timing and whether you’re willing to work with your issues. But you should be more conscious of what you’re doing by now. It can be a creative time and you might meet people who help you to grow and heal.
I had this sextile when I was 36 and it was a mixed experience, possibly because it coincided with my Pluto square to itself. I was struggling with some dark night of the soul issues but still managed to do a lot of writing, so it was a very creative time, despite the darkness. During this transit I met a writing tutor who helped to improve my work, and started writing a screenplay which went on to win a competition 18 months later (when Saturn was conjunct my Sun). I also wrote a non-fiction version of Addled, which I later turned into the Evolution of Consciousness series on this blog.
The Chiron Cycle ends with the return at age 50 to 51 and your experience of this will depend on whether you’ve been working consciously towards healing and wholeness. We’ll explore this part of the cycle in depth in the next post, but according to Barbara Hand Clow, this is when you can fully manifest higher levels of consciousness in your life:
“With the first square, we are penetrated, with the opposition we are connected, with the upper square we become conscious of the process, and with the return, we embody the process.”
Whether or not the process happens like this depends on your personal path of individuation and how far down that path you’re willing to go. Not everyone wants to become a spiritual master (!) – and you don’t have to, unless your soul requires it. The goal of the Chiron Cycle is self-acceptance and wholeness, and what that means will be different for every individual – more on that here: Chiron: Initiation and the process of Individuation
- Chiron: Healing Body and Soul by Martin Lass
- Chiron by Barbara Hand Clow
- Chiron and the Healing Journey by Melanie Reinhart