If you were born between 1968 and 1977 you probably have Chiron in Aries so over the next few years you’ll be experiencing your Chiron Return. Chiron entered Aries in 2018 and will stay there until 2027, giving us middle-aged folks a good hard look at our wounds. My Chiron Return hits next year but I’m already feeling it – hence this series – so this post explores some of the insights I’ve been processing…
With Chiron in Aries your wound is to your identity and will. You may feel as if you don’t have the right to exist or be yourself, which leads to problems with self-sabotage, rage, crippling insecurity and self-doubt. The gift hidden within this wound is the opportunity to discover your true identity as a spiritual being and to share that awakening with others. (More on Chiron in Aries here)
I have Chiron in Aries in the 2nd house which focuses the identity wound in my body. With Chiron in the 2nd you tend to have issues with emotional and material security, difficulties feeling safe, and lack of self-worth. Here’s my full Chiron configuration:
- Chiron retrograde in Aries in 2nd house
- Ruled by Mars in Leo in 7th house
- Chiron trine Moon, Chiron opposite Uranus, Chiron sextile Ascendant, Chiron trine Midheaven
- Pisces on cusp of 2nd house, ruled by Jupiter in Scorpio in 8th (and Neptune in Scorpio in 9th conjunct MC)
- Chiron is on the midpoint between the Ascendant and IC
- Saturn and Uranus midpoint in 6th house in Cancer
I won’t unpack this in detail because it would take too long – and be boring as hell for anyone who isn’t me! – but I included some of the highlights of my Chiron Cycle here. In that post, I mentioned my wound in passing: I was born with a heart defect and had an operation to correct it when I was about 18 months old.
I don’t know anything about Medical Astrology but the basics of my chart are: the 6th house of health is in Cancer, ruled by the Moon in Leo, which rules the heart. Chiron is trine the Moon and ruled by Mars, which is also in Leo.
But this isn’t just about Chiron in Aries. The wound could also be symbolised by other parts of my chart, like Saturn in Taurus and Capricorn in the 12th house, and experienced through Chiron. Saturn is the chart ruler and it’s in opposition to Neptune, which is the dominant planet at the Midheaven.
Also, the fact I was born with this problem suggests a karmic payload carried over from previous lives. This could be indicated by my Sun (which rules the heart) conjunct the South Node in Virgo. (full chart here)
Something was determined to wake me up in this life and it worked…
Obviously I don’t remember the heart operation, but according to my mother, it had a profound – and wounding – effect on me. Here’s the gist:
I was born with a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) which means one of the little tubes in my heart failed to close properly. This meant my heart had to work extra hard to pump oxygen around my tiny body, and if they hadn’t fixed it, I would’ve had serious problems later in life.
These days the operation involves keyhole surgery, but back in the 70s it meant slicing me open to close the duct. Because I’m a girl, the surgeon went in via the back rather than cutting open my chest. I now have a lovely (massive!) scar on my back and under my left arm. But it wasn’t the operation itself that caused my Chiron wound, although it may have exacerbated and physicalised it.
For some reason, the hospital wouldn’t let my mum sleep in the same room as me. When she came to get me up on the morning of the operation, somebody had beat her to it. I was sitting on a chair looking pale and terrified. I had no idea where she was or what was going on, surrounded by strangers and alone.
It’s taken years to dig through the layers of defences and avoidance to finally touch this primal wound and understand it. The heart of the wound is a feeling so it’s hard to put into words: a maelstrom of rage, terror, guilt, and shame, and underneath it all, loss and despair. It felt like I was abandoned because there was something wrong with me. You could summarise it as:
I’m bad so Mummy has gone away.
Something in me recoiled from life in that moment and shut down, or my spirit simply refused to fully enter my body. Part of me has never trusted anyone, or life, since. And I can’t trust myself either, since I’m the cause of the problem – I was born broken.
The initial wound was reinforced by more wounding events in my childhood until it became an obvious fact – to my mind, at least. I grew up convinced I should never have been born and that I don’t deserve to exist.
The trauma happened at the age you begin to differentiate yourself from the world and feel yourself to be separate. It coincided with a Chiron Return because I have Chiron retrograde, and as we saw in an earlier post, Barbara Hand Clow says this tends to make you “systemically mystical.” Early wounds can damage your relationship to the body and instincts, and leave the psyche wide open to the imaginal realm. This messes up ego development and can trigger breakdowns and/or illness in later life.
I wasn’t aware of being ‘mystical’ during my early years – I just didn’t want to be alive and was longing for something I didn’t understand. Most of my energy went into proving I was good and worthy of existence. It seemed to work but I was in denial and heading for disaster.
The breakdown started at age 20 when I realised I didn’t know who I was. Chiron was transiting my 6th house, and Uranus was square my natal Chiron. But the main culprits were Saturn, Uranus and Neptune transiting the 12th house, Pluto opposite my Saturn, and the progressed Sun conjunct my Pluto. It was an incredibly tense time.
(oh, how I wish I’d known astrology back then! I began to study it when Saturn crossed my Ascendant a year after the breakdown…)
During that period, my false identity collapsed and the wound erupted into my consciousness. Luckily, I was also given a glimpse into my true nature, although I didn’t understand it at the time. (You can read about that here: First Contact) This started me off down the spiritual path and I slowly began to heal – so I believed.
Now that my Chiron Return is approaching, I’m rethinking my whole life. I’ve become aware that almost everything I’ve done has been an attempt to make myself feel better by changing something external. Relationships, music, sound recording, astrology, writing, and even spiritual practice were all motivated, at least in part, by avoidance of the pain of the wound. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have done those things, just that I’ve been tormenting myself unnecessarily.
As I’ve got older, various health problems have shifted my focus and forced me to take better care of myself and come back into my body. A series of failures and disillusionments have made it clear that I can’t heal the wound by running away from it (duh!) and nothing external will fix it either. It’s also brought me back to the spiritual path I believed I was on – turns out, I’d wandered off into the bushes. 😉
I fell off the path because I wasn’t grounded in my body and was trying to hold the realisation of truth in my head (Aries!). This made me top heavy and I fell back into my shadow, into the wound. The darkest part of my wound – a death wish – even manifested literally and attacked me from the outside to wake me up. (You can read about that here: Shadow Attack: Instant Karma & a Wake-Up Call)
Now I need to bring the truth into my body and hold the realisation in my heart – where it belongs. That means accepting the grief and terror and rage, and giving that lost little girl some compassion.
When I was too small to understand, I took the pain of the wound as a judgement against myself. But it wasn’t. It’s just a fact of life – an existential wound to the soul. That rupture is what happens when you squish an infinite being into a tiny little body and plop it into existence.
It’s bound to break your heart.
I don’t feel bad because I am bad. I feel bad because I’m out of alignment with my true Self.
In cultures around the world, the heart is seen as a symbol of life and love, as well as the seat of the soul and a source of courage and truth. Jung saw the heart as central to the process of individuation and the place where the conscious and unconscious become united. It has an alchemical function that allows you to transcend and commune with the divine by turning inwards.
The Upanishads say the whole of life is held within the heart, which unites the opposites. It’s also the abode of the Atman, or the higher Self, so the heart is where Braham and Atman meet – or God and the Self. In Tibetan Buddhism the soul is carried in the indestructible drop that exists in the heart. This is your spiritual essence or the eternal part of your being. It’s indestructible because it’s one with the ultimate nature of reality.
Buddhism also refers to the importance of developing bodhichitta, or an awakened heart and mind. In a similar way to Brahman and Atman in the Upanishads, bodhichitta is divided into absolute and relative. Absolute bodhichitta is your Buddha nature and it underlies everything that exists, while relative bodhichitta is how you put that love into action. (More on that here: Lojong for Writers)
Pema Chodron says those who train in awakening bodhichitta are known as bodhisattvas or spiritual warriors – which could be a definition of Chiron in Aries. In this article she talks about how we can work with our pain and compares bodhichitta to an open wound, then goes on:
“An analogy for bodhichitta is the rawness of a broken heart. Sometimes this broken heart gives birth to anxiety and panic; sometimes to anger, resentment and blame. But under the hardness of that armour there is the tenderness of genuine sadness. This is our link with all those who have ever loved. This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we’re arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all.”
This is the gift hidden in the wound of my broken heart, and I wouldn’t have woken up without it. Although the pain of it almost drove me crazy, it also motivated me to search for the truth by asking the ultimate koan: Who am I? At first, I used the search to escape the wound, but the truth kept bringing me back to my body and the broken places within myself.
You can’t awaken fully without a clear energy channel in the body so I need to dissolve my lingering blockages and bad habits. But I can’t do it by force – it needs to happen spontaneously. In other words, I must act from my true Self, rather than from the wound. And that means getting out of my own way and acting without acting.
As Lama Surya Das says, there’s nothing to do but enjoy the View. The ‘View’ being the truth of who you are and always have been.
I never needed to become someone else or prove myself worthy or any of that shit. I just needed to relax and recognise what was already there – and then act on it. The ‘real me’ that I searched so hard for, was always there. It was there when I was born. It was there in the hospital when I was traumatised. It’s there now and always will be.
To finish this ramble, here’s some practices that will help me (and perhaps you) to ground the truth in my body and remember who I am:
- Dzogchen meditation
- Zazen meditation
- Tonglen meditation
- Loving-kindness meditation
- Wu wei, or effortless action
- Chi Kung, or Qi Gong
- Yoga for grounding
- Walking in nature
Best of luck if you’re having your Chiron Return – let me know how it’s going in the comments below. More on the Chiron Return here.