Let’s Get Practical About Chiron:
A quick and simple guide to Interpretations
by Anne Beversdorf
Chiron’s first perihelion (when it’s closest to the Sun) since its discovery was on Valentine’s Day, 1996. As Chiron hurtles toward the sun it seems timely to offer a few tips to using the body in practical astrology. This is not a polite, wordy article about Chiron. It’s a “quick and dirty” guide to INSTANTLY using Chiron in your own chart interpretive work.
Not only is it nice to have an easy understanding of this near-standard new astrological object, it’s also very useful. If you’re called upon to do instant chart interpretations, for example, and nothing else jumps out at you (let’s say it’s a person inquiring out of curiosity with no real “issues” right now) you can do a Chiron interpretation over time. The person goes away practically feeling their soul has been revealed to them–that now they can begin to construct a “meaning” for their life story. So dive right in and enjoy this guide–preferably with a chart or two and a Chiron ephemeris in hand as you read! 1
I. Quick Interpretative Sentences for Chiron:
Chiron speaks to issues of meaning in our lives. I sometimes call Chiron the “Why ME?” planet. Where Chiron is placed we are never quite able to answer that question. “Fill in the blanks” in the sentences below to interpret Chiron’s placement in natal charts.
“In every chart Chiron’s placement shows where a person feels so different that they can’t really relate to others on that issue. In this particular chart, the individual feels so different about themselves in the area of (fill in keywords for house placement) that they can’t relate to others on that level. The difference is likely to be related to (fill in keywords for sign placement). Because this is likely to be such an important issue, it is something the person continues to work on all of his or her life, therefore developing a rich and varied ‘toolbox’ of skills and techniques, adding to the toolbox over time and replacing old and worn out tools with better and more useful ones. At some point during adulthood, the person begins to realize they have a tremendous and valuable resource in this personal toolbox, and begins to use the tools for other life circumstances and to assist others.”
For Chiron’s affect on a person (by house and sign) you can also use the word “alienated” –but not necessarily as a bad or painful thing.
First house Chiron in Aquarius (the “fill-in-the-blank” part) would read:
“In this chart, the individual feels so different about their appearance or the way they present themselves in the world that they can’t relate to others on that level. The difference is likely to be related to something unusual about their appearance, or to a preference for unconventional or shocking behavior.”
Fourth House Chiron would be:
“This person feels so different from other members of the family of origin that he or she simply can’t relate to them.”
II. The Chiron Cycle:
Just as we can follow the cycle of the moon: the new moon, the first quarter moon, the full moon, and the third quarter moon; each planet has a similar cycle. Rudhyar’s seminal work The Lunation Cycle points out that the original position (equivalent to the new moon) sets up the initial conditions. The opening square (first quarter) presents a “crisis of manifestation”, the opposition (full moon) presents the peak of activity, and the closing square (third quarter) presents a “crisis of integration.” This cycle can be applied to the placements and transits of any planets in a chart. When applied to Chiron, Chiron’s placement in the birthchart sets up the initial conditions. I find that Chiron’s placement indicates an issue that is worked on throughout the life and forms the basis for the search for meaning in a person’s life.
Unlike the cycles of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, which are predictable enough that we can pretty much know at what age a person would have experienced hard aspects, Chiron’s orbit is both extremely eccentric and also very fast. In 51 years it swings far more elliptically than Pluto does in 248 years. So we can’t really speak of Chiron “generations” as we do the “Pluto in Leo” generation, or the “Neptune in Libra” generation. A person’s first Chiron square can occur any time between five years of age and 28 years of age. In some instances, people born in the same year and month can have a first Chiron square a whole year apart. In other years, (when Chiron is in Taurus, for example), people born a year apart may have their first square within a few months of each other. Obviously, the impact on one’s life of having an early or a late Chiron square would be quite different.
Chiron’s Opening Square:
This is usually an event or experience in one’s life that one is totally unable to “fit in” with their understanding of how life works, so they shove it under the rug, so to speak, peeking every now and then to see if it’s resolved itself. The description of this event has to do with the house (first) and sign (second) placement of the square (first house natal Chiron will probably be a fourth house opening square), and in a subtle way reflects on the issue of the natal Chiron placement.
Chiron’s Opposition to the natal position:
This usually means finally getting free, or being freed from, a situation that has become confining to one’s spirit. It may mean leaving home, leaving a marriage (or being left), leaving an unsatisfactory job–I’ve also seen lawsuits finally settled. Having the nature of any “opposition” aspect, it relates to self being freed from others in a 1-7 manner, but the specific event has more to do with the house and sign placement of the opposition. At this point, quite frequently, people will enter therapy, realizing they need to “resolve” or “get a handle” on something. Quite often, that “something” turns out to be the original Chiron-square event.
Chiron’s Closing square:
In a symbolic way, this involves the occurrence of a situation similar to that of the opening square. In this case the person has the opportunity to integrate the first experience, replaying it on their own terms. For those who dropped out of school at the opening square, this might be a return to school. If the opening square included being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of a first child, this might include assisting in the care of another child, grandchild or neighbor’s child. While sign and house placement are of the closing square Chiron are important, the events of the first square are also important for interpretation here.
At best, this represents the re-integration of mind-body-spirit, to which Chiron’s teaching aspired. This is also the coming together of masculine and feminine elements in a personality: a time when many men suddenly want to become active fathers (and often find their teenage children aren’t interested in hanging out with Dad–or they will want to start a new family and become more active in childcare. It’s also a time when many women feel free to step forward assertively in their community. The Chiron return is a time for reintegration and balance. Depending on the “work” done in the previous parts of the cycle, it can also bring a shocking–but enlightening–event of its own. By this time one begins to understand that one’s own “Chironic wound” is what can be offered up to the service of others. That which one spends a lifetime trying to understand is where one develops extraordinary abilities for the healing of others. For the very reason that the problem is unanswerable in one’s own life, it means you are constantly “in process”, which is a much greater position from which to help others than to be the “expert with the answers”.
Each part of the cycle becomes a turning point in life–a spiraling upward of symbols connected with the original cycle. Usually far less difficult than the first cycle, with each stage becoming an additional push for self-integration or freedom. In the Pluto in Cancer generation, the second round of Chiron square-opposition-square are often associated with a retired person or couple selling the house, buying a mobile home, and travelling around the country, to give just one example.
Examples of the Chiron Cycle:
One client with a 12th house Chiron (“so different in your intuitive understanding of things that you simply cannot relate to others about this experience”) had her first square occur in her third house in early elementary school. She remembered a teacher making a pointed and snide comment–something to the effect that she didn’t know half as much as she thought she did. That comment, coming out of the blue, and with such a belittling intent haunted her–making her very self-conscious her entire life about what she said and thought she knew. At Chiron’s opposition to its natal position, this person dropped out of college. At the closing square, in her ninth house, she has re-enrolled in college, ready to face down her academic insecurities
Another client has natal Chiron in Aquarius in the first (“so different in her appearance or the way she presents herself to others that…”) She has a cleft palate that is truly a split lip, and it wasn’t repaired in childhood. Her first square (4th house) was the accidental death of her only child (infant) due to an incorrect medical prescription. The opposition (7th house) was the successful resolution of the lawsuit against the medical group. With the proceeds of the suit, and as Chiron traversed Virgo (healing) in her 8th house (transformation) she is having surgeries, timed to correspond to important dates in her child’s life: birth, christening, death. Amazing use of the energies. I can take no credit for her planning. It was a purely instinctive set of decisions on her part, and symbolically totally appropriate to the astrological placements.
Personally, I had difficulty identifying the circumstance of the first Chiron square in my life. My Chiron is in Sagittarius in the ninth house, conjunct the MC. The first square took place in my first house when I was twelve. My parents had a third child when I was eleven, but this was too early to qualify for the opening square. Finally I realized that the Chironic experience was the intense bonding I experienced with this child. During that period of my life I can barely remember anything at all other than this baby. In a very real sense I lost my independent identity through a loss-of-boundaries merging with her. When I was 13 she drowned–and a part of me was simply lost. At the Chiron opposition (fourth house) I was suddenly and reluctantly divorced–and found myself gloriously and unexpectedly free. As little as I wanted the divorce I was amazed to find the next year one of the happiest in my life. I was beginning to realize that the dynamics of that marriage were somehow related to my bonding with and loss of my sister, but I didn’t know how. As the third quarter came around I found myself becoming deeply emotionally involved with two dear friends who were fighting AIDS. At the close of the third quarter transits, (seventh house) one of these friends died, and his partner and I experienced an extremely close emotional bonding. As emotions related to my sister’s death resurfaced, I realized that I was responding to my friend under the same planetary (and emotional) impulses that bonded me to my sister. He had become my brother. And although my greatest fear had been to lose someone I loved, I willingly entered into this friendship, knowing the likelihood of losing this friend. At this point he lives in my home and I am learning to value the present-tense love and richness of life in the face of uncertainties.
I have been asked if Chiron always relates to horrific and traumatizing events. No, it doesn’t. However, the opening square tends to be something that one simply doesn’t know how to handle. A very different example is a man with Chiron in the first house whose first square took place in his fourth house when he was a child. His parents moved from a busy apartment building with lots of children to play with, to a country home where he had to learn to entertain himself alone. He still deals with emotional issues having to do with sociability versus solitude.
III. Major Transiting Chiron Passages:
All conjunctions of Chiron to natal planets involve a Shock followed by a new understanding and a realization that the “shock” actually was a healing shock: The pattern, consistently is Shock, then Resolution; Shock, then Resolution. The typical reaction after the Shock part is “Gee, I think it’s really better that it happened this way.” If transiting Chiron retrogrades back over the natal planet, the resolution of the shock will not come until the final conjunction.
Transiting Chiron Conjunct Sun:
At this time one actively “rewrites ones life script” (thanks to Dale O’Brian for this image). If this occurs after early adolescence, one begins to realize that they have lived according to other peoples’ rules and values, and are compelled to “rewrite their script” to live life on their own terms. If this occurs during early childhood, parents may comment on how the child “suddenly changed” at that point, usually becoming far more independent.
Transiting Chiron Conjunct Uranus:
Sudden, shocking change, and statement of freedom and independence. Although similar to the conjunction with the Sun, this does not affect the deeper parts of the person. It is often accompanied by a sudden need to “get free” from a job, relationship, or other commitment that is suddenly seen as stifling.
Transiting Chiron Conjunct Pluto:
Sudden, deep, internal upheaval followed by sense of freedom. Somewhat like the conjunction with Uranus. The Pluto conjunction tends to be a deeper internal process, accompanied with a painful power struggle. Unlike the Chiron conjunction to Sun or Uranus, the conjunction to Pluto may not involve immediate external life changes. Rather it tends to be a deep internal change presaging outer changes later.
Since 1992, when I first started paying attention to Chiron, I’ve had transiting Chiron conjunctions to five planets, the descendant, and the Vertex, plus three passes of the closing square. This has truly been one of the most exciting and rewarding times of my life. Interestingly, although each of the Chiron transits brought a uniquely chironic event, they are not the sort I would be likely to remember if someone simply asked me about them years later. Here’s a brief summary, so you can get the flavor of the kind of event Chiron can bring when it transits natal planets. Please remember that we’re looking at Chiron in isolation from the rest of the chart. Certainly the rest of the chart colors the nature of the chironic events. Still, it’s a useful exercise. So here’s what happened when Chiron passed over:
Pluto: I realized that the difficulties I was having with the company I’d worked with for many years were due to deep subliminal power struggles between higher-ups and myself. I engaged in the battle (hopefully I’m wiser than that now!) and the power struggles became worse.
Sun: Decided to quit my business. Refused to sign an unacceptable contract with my MAJOR supplier. Laid off all staff. Signed my personal declaration of independence from the rules of corporate America and started studying/practicing astrology full time.
Descendant: Inseparable from Sun, as they were less than one day apart.
Closing square, first pass: Dear friend nearly died. Second pass: He died. Third pass: Began intense bonding process with his partner.
Mercury: (there were a lot of exact planetary aspects in the sky on this date, so this wasn’t Chiron’s fault alone, but…..) Had a car accident causing nearly $6000 damage to my car. No one was injured. The part of my car that was smashed had a whole bunch of scratched and chipped paint on it, which got fixed with the rest of the vehicle damages. The accident also made me very emotional and I dredged up and processed lots of stuff having to do with my sister’s death and my friend/brother (Mercury).
Saturn: This was only a few days after the Mercury incident, and I can’t identify the event. It could be that the emotional processing of death issues was related to Saturn. That didn’t start immediately and it lasted for several days.
Vertex: A surprising, flattering, and very shocking marriage proposal from a friend for the purposes of my sharing his health insurance. We tabled the motion, but it made me rethink a lot of my assumptions about the meaning of marriage and relationships. As it turns out, this point was also the South Node of our composite chart.
Venus: Being in the seventh house, I had great hopes for a new love relationship. First pass: An awful and unprovoked verbal attack from a female open enemy. Second pass: An unavoidable but very polite encounter with the same woman. Third pass: A friendly letter in the mail from the same woman.
One of the things I stress when talking to clients about Chiron, is that its position/effect in the birthchart is something that stays with them always, but their response to it will change over time. For example, yesterday I talked to two women, each of whom had Chiron conjunct Sun in the eleventh house. I explained that they felt that “who they really were was so different, especially from their friends, that on some level they simply couldn’t relate even to their friends.” That there was “a basic way in which each felt there was ‘something wrong’ with who they were.” Yes, each woman agreed. “But they have probably noticed that they have a special skill in making others feel good about who THEY are.” Yes, they agreed.
Over time, each person develops a unique “toolbox” for coping with their own Chironic issue. As time passes the person will discard tools that no longer work and replace them with better and more refined tools. This toolbox is always open and available, and always replenished. At some point, the person realizes that they have a fortune in tools, and that these tools are tremendously useful and valuable to themselves and to others. Even though our original sense of “something being wrong”, the original “Why ME?” question, never goes away, it can slowly transform from a debility to a recognition that, by keeping the question alive, the skills one develops in that area are more important to the person than the pain of the question.
1. Melanie Reinhardt’s book on Chiron includes a 20th century ephemeris of the comet.