Monday, March 10, 2014

CHIRON - Part Two of Three - A Chironic Personality, Chelsea Manning

In August, 2013 Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, an intelligence analyst for the US army, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking secret material (whistle blowing) to WikiLeaks, such as footage of an airstrike on civilians, during the Iraq war. Diagnosed with a gender identity disorder, she announced that she wanted to begin hormone replacement in prison. She has since become a cultural icon.  Her chart has strong Sagittarius, Scorpio and Pisces components, heavy on the Chiron.

 “ I am agony – mother of grief and greatness – O my  child!
   Yes, I gave birth to a flawless, mighty son...
   The splendour of heroes, and he shot up like a  young branch,
   Like a fine tree I reared him – the orchard’s crowning glory – 
   But only to send him off in the beaked ships to Troy! ”
                     - Thetis bemoans the fate of Achilles


Chiron and Achilles by John Singer Sargent

Chiron, as discussed in Part one, instructs the inner hero. According to myth, he had a very close relationship with one student in particular - his adopted son, Achilles. Like the wise centaur's, Achilles' mother, Thetis, was also sea nymph who'd abandoned her husband and son (though she turns up again, later). She suffered terrible, post-partum depression when he was born, because her six sons before him had died in infancy.

Determined not to lose this son, Thetis secretly vowed to make Achilles invulnerable. Without telling her husband, she took Achilles into the Underworld of the god Hades and dipped the baby in the River Styx. The river was swift and Thetis did not want to lose her baby, so she held him tightly by one heel. The magical protecting waters washed all over Achilles, except for the heel that his mother held. Upon learning that Thetis had gone, King Pelias was distraught and suspicious. His wife had been acting strangely, and he was concerned for Achilles' safety. He was relieved when his wife and son returned unharmed, but he determined to keep a watchful eye on them. That night as Pelias pretended be asleep, he saw Thetis remove Achilles from his cradle and place him in the fire that warmed their chambers. He quickly lunged out of bed and grabbed the baby out of the flames. "You fool!" cried Thetis. "Had you left Achilles in the flames he would have become immortal. He has been dipped in River Styx and is invulnerable to the fire."

Thetis then promptly left them both, and returned to the sea. King Pelias, not knowing what else to do, brought his son to Mount Pelion and turned him over to Chiron, who had a very good reputation for raising heroes. He took Achilles under his wing, as Artemis and Apollo had taken him, and taught the boy riding, hunting, pipe-playing, healing and singing as well as the martial arts. Achilles exemplified all the best qualities of a warrior, coupled with the soul of a poet.
Achilles discovered

Achilles was also a cross-dresser, of sorts. His worried mother had disguised him as a girl, so that he would not have to go to war with the Trojans (they could not be defeated without him, however). Achilles didn't want to wear a dress, but he found it helped him get close to the King of Scyros' daughter, Diedameia. To smoke him out, his comrades brought all kinds of beautiful gifts for the ladies, like jewels and fancy cloth, and were instructed by Odysseus to sound the battle trumpet. Achilles - who'd been admiring the weaponry, rather than jewels - tore off his robes when he heard it, thus blowing his cover.

Though a demi-God, Achilles eventually met his fate via an arrow to the heel that didn't get dipped in the Styx. This is where we get the expression 'Achilles' heel,' meaning a person's point of weakness or vulnerability (also Achilles tendon). Achilles' name means 'grief of the people.' 

Gemini Ascendant, Chiron in the First House

We don't know Chelsea Manning's time of birth, but I have it on file as 4:30 pm, putting Chiron in the first house, with a Gemini rising. Chiron's 'rainbow bridge' colours her chart like light through a prism. The ascendant acts like a lens through which we see the world and it sees us, including our physical appearance. Mercurial, boyish, quirky and small (5'2"), with sharp, blue eyes seems to fit.

Gemini is the sign of the duality. One biographer wrote that Manning "was viewed as both a 21st century Tiananmen Square Tank Man and an embittered traitor." 
People with a Gemini ascendant can sometimes over-identify with that which is outside them, losing themselves in the process. 

Gemini's ruler, Mercury, is the hermaphrodite God of communications, commerce, transactions, words, gossip, information, computers, trickery. Chiron in Gemini means Manning's personal 'antennae' are finely tuned to mass consciousness and that she was born with a "crisis of integration." Part of her healing is through education and communication. She was an expert computer analyst, is intelligent, outspoken and strives to make herself clearly understood. Indeed, the early Chiron Gemini wound has to do with being misunderstood as a child, as well as pain shared by siblings.

Stellium of Mercury, Saturn, Sun, Uranus in Sagittarius, Pallas Athena and Neptune in Capricorn, Venus and Ceres in Capricorn

Aspects to Chiron serve to activate it, opening the wound and releasing the teachings therein. There's a whole bouquet of stressful ones here; 4 oppositions from planets in Sagittarius and one from Pallas Athene in Capricorn, squares to the nodes (depending on the time of birth), plus inconjuncts to Venus and Ceres in Capricorn. Venus signifies a man's feminine side or what he is attracted to in a partner. So the woman created from Bradley Manning is quite earthy and dignified, if a bit cool on the outside, perhaps inspired by the older sister who took care of him when young. Chelsea's chosen, second name, Elizabeth, is very Venus Capricorn. 

Sagittarius as warrior - spiritual or otherwise - seeks to develop strong moral character through self-discipline, in accordance with one's own, exacting standards, if not those imprinted by a respected institution. Chelsea's father, described as being quite controlling, had joined the military at 19 and had also been an intelligence analyst. Like father, like son (Saturn Sagi/Jupiter Aries)...or rather, like Jupiter's daughter, Pallas Athena in Capricorn. The planets symbolize parts of oneself, but also people or influences that provide mirrors for our projections. 

"Yeah, I think he was grandstanding...I mean, I can't fathom any reason to myself why he should be -- that I should forgive him for doing something like that because it's against my creed, or code of honor."  
                                              ~ Brian Manning, Chelsea's father

Interesting that Saturn and Uranus, the planets at either end of Chiron's 'rainbow bridge,' should be conjunct in the sign of the centaur.

Sun and Uranus conjunct in Sagittarius is highly idealistic, but Capricorn is a sobering, even depressive placement for Neptune's dreaming (can make for a dark sense of humour). Babes of the goth, Reagan era. Same with Saturn in Sagittarius - Saturn lends a heaviness to the otherwise jovial nature. Saturn conjunct Sun shows a strong sense of moral responsibility and any planets conjunct the Sun give one a sense that they have some important destiny or mission. Sagittarius is truth seeking and truth telling (Mercury) by nature, so she'd find it difficult, if not impossible, to abide by a system based on of hypocrisy and lies. 

Chelsea has been quoted as saying she joined the army thinking it would straighten her out, but also that she wanted to be able to get a university education (more likely - Sagittarius rules the 9th house of long distance travel and higher learning). We will probably never know whether or not she joined the army with a deliberate, personal mission to expose the truth.

Jupiter in Aries trine Sun, Saturn, Mercury

Jupiter in Aries bestows heroism - 'fortune favours the brave'. Chelsea's grand act of defiance alienated her from the army community, but connected her, via the media (Mercury/Uranus) to the collective, where she quickly became a cultural anti-hero type, Promethean hero. When Uranus entered Aries, we started seeing the rise of these brave, yet seemingly vulnerable, young individuals. (See 'Fish Have Left the Building' post, Dec 2011).

Pluto, Mars and Moon conjunct in Scorpio,  North Node in Pisces

"He had the odds stacked against him, even before he was born," wrote one journalist. Chelsea's parents were both alcoholics, they divorced when she was 12. Her mother had attempted suicide, with young Chelsea riding to hospital with her in the back seat. Though not abused or unloved, she'd been a somewhat neglected child, who learned early on to take care of herself. (This is common with the shamanic, Chiron archetype). She was prone to sudden outbursts of temper, no surprises there. Sagittarius fire is swift. Moon in Scorpio is emotionally sensitive and can also indicate strong identification or early internalizing of her mother's emotional and sexual pain. (Her mother drank during pregnancy). It can also be passive-aggressive and vindictive. 

"If anyone was going to get themselves arrested for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret documents and end up in jail for it, it was going to be our Bradley. He just seemed to have a burning sense of wanting to right any injustice from such a young age." ~ Mrs. Staples,  Chelsea's aunt 

Thetis, Mother of Achilles

This grouping in Scorpio is extremely secretive and can certainly indicate undercover work (especially in the 6th house of work and health) like espionage, but also Plutonian, sexuality-based transformation. Chelsea's desire to become a woman is part of her continual identity overhaul. Spying and sex just go together, in Scorpio's opinion.

The Pluto in Scorpio generation have been exploring their sexuality very deeply. It's all part of their particular, collective-karmic experience. Unfortunately, Pluto and Mars together here could mean sexual brutality for Chelsea in an all-male, military prison. It is as if she has, unconsciously, chosen to be a scapegoat for the sins of the whole patriarchy and be crucified in an attempt to remove it from the world, or by personally transforming/castrating the embodied masculine. 

Chiron, if you haven't already sensed it, has a martyred Christ-like energy. People with the North Node in Pisces are on the Christ path and Manning is certainly proving to be a martyr. She comforted her crying lawyer after her trial, saying, "Don't worry about it. It's all right. I know you did your best... I'm going to be OK. I'm going to get through this." 

Along with the Pisces North Node, this Scorpio triage has inherent, psychic abilities. It would be good for Chelsea to nurture and develop her psychic awareness along with her gender transition.

9 Life path, influenced by 17 Birthday

The 9 cycle concerns endings, reflection, selflessness, universal love and creativity. It's corresponding Tarot trump is the Hermit, also relating to Chiron and to the 9th house, Sagittarius. It's also the number of months in a human gestation.

Pluto, occupying the 9th sphere from the Sun, leaves the solar system community during it's very elliptical orbit and returns to within the sphere of Neptune to share what it has received from the beyond. People with a 9 life path similarly fluctuate between a lone, hermetic existence and a socially inclusive one. (Chelsea Manning was held in solitary confinement for 9 months).

17, the Star in Tarot has to do with self-knowledge, truth, grace, self acceptance. It relates to Aquarius, and, if Chelsea indeed has an Aquarius midheaven, the 17 birthday would denote fame, but maybe not the infamous sort she is having now. We'll have to wait and see what happens with her around middle age. 

17 reduces to 8, Justice. 8 is the number of harvest, practicality, natural law, balance. Pretty self-explanatory. 

"If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal." 
                                                             ~ Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning's leaked testimony:

Anderson Cooper's interview with Chelsea's father: 

Interview with Chelsea's mother and aunt in the Guardian : 

Manning tells Time Magazine what she's thankful for:

Next : Chiron - Part 3 - The Pisces Return


Friday, March 7, 2014

CHIRON - Part One of Three - "Physician Heal Thyself"

Centaur Reading by Odilon Redon

In astrology, Chiron (Kheiron) is called the 'wounded healer', our inner shaman. His glyph resembles a key, with which to unlock our mortal pain and sacred teachings, through the art of our practice. It's tricky to define Chiron's expression by sign alone, the way we might with a personal planet like Mercury or Venus. For one thing, it has yet to complete an orbit to where it was found in 1977. The Virgo rulership assigned to Chiron is based on his selfless service, but he also has major Sagittarius and Scorpio characteristics. Chiron is now transiting Pisces. (More on that in Part 3). 

Chiron's very elliptical path ranges from just within Saturn's orbit to just outside Uranus', but mostly between the two. We associate astrological Uranus with everything new or revolutionary, though mythical Uranus is even older than Saturn. (The outer planets' names were given in order of 'begat,' not by observing their nature over time, as the ancients did). Some think Prometheus would be more fitting especially since  Prometheus, who gave fire to humans, was Chiron's liberator. Saturn (Cronos), Chiron's father, represents the past, that which binds or limits us and the limits of the ancient solar system, as well as hard lessons. 

Obe Wan Kenobi and Luke, Star Wars 1977

Discovered by Charles Kowal on Nov 1, 1997, the planetoid Chiron was named after the famed centaur of Greek myth. The "enigmatic object" had been spotted by a camera the month before, but wasn't noticed on the photographic plate right away. Or maybe it was just waiting for the Sagittarius ascendant and Scorpio Sun. Nov 1 is also when the veil between worlds is lifted (Samhain, Dia de Los Muertos, All Soul's Eve). People born around  this time have access to walk between them - a key, if you will. Kowal (b. Nov 8, 1940), was a real Scorpio sleuth, with Pluto and Part of Fortune both conjunct Chiron in his chart. The day he made the discovery, transiting Mars was in conjunction to them. That 'key' glyph for Chiron is really a stylized OK, for 'Object Kowal.' Access, OK !

Kowal's Pisces Moon was, incidentally, conjunct the Sun of Galileo Galilei. In 1980, he made another discovery - that of Neptune (ruler of Pisces), in a drawing done by Galileo in 1613, predating it's official discovery by 233 years. He was given an award for his "shockingly outre" finding. Also under his belt - a couple of Jupiter Moons, the 'centaurs' (of which Chiron is one) who roam between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune, and the co-discovery of other asteroids, comets and super-novas. 

The Kuiper Belt - home of the Centaurs

In Greek mythology, Chiron is conceived when the nymph Philyra, changes herself into a horse to escape the horny Titan God. Cronus then turns himself into a stallion and has his way with her. Another version says he did this to avoid being caught by his wife, Rhea. When the baby is born, Philyra rejects him. This is Chiron's first wound - being the monstrous, anthropomorphic offspring of rape and then rejected by his parents. His physical wound doesn't come until later, when, unwittingly caught up in a drunken centaur melee (he is sober) he is accidentally struck by one of Heracles' poison arrows. Because the arrow was tipped with Hydra venom, the wound could never be healed. (Serpent power trumps all).

In a way, the arrow opens up his old wound, by reminding him he was born a Titan, and that, unless he can relinquish his birthright of immortality, he'll suffer in stinging agony for eternity…in other words, he really needs to let go. But it's all well in the end, Chiron trades mortalities with Prometheus and when he dies, magnanimous Zeus (Jupiter) puts him in the sky as a constellation, instead of sending him to Hades with all the other mortal souls. 

Had Chiron not been abandoned, he likely wouldn't have wouldn't have learned all about music, medicine, martial arts, horses, hunting, astrology, art, poetry, and prophecy from his foster God parents, Artemis (Moon) and Apollo (Sun). Nor would he have gone on to tutor and care for heroes like Theseus, Achilles, Perseus, Jason, Heracles, the great healer Asclepius, or even Dionysus, to whom he taught dance. There was no other centaur, nor indeed any being quite like him. 

Chiron teaching Achilles cameo brooch

Modern psychology tells us bad experiences in childhood can wreck us for life, unless we work on them in therapy and that bad parenting is mostly to blame. But what if we were to turn our thinking around and view that early wound as stage one of preparation for lessons we are to face later in life ? Parents may be the first to provide the environment, but we come into the world with prepackaged seeds and our own keys. Aspects and transits are what seem to gradually bring out an asteroid or planetoid's character over time. Some astrologers think that Chiron wounds are more the accidental or fated sort, rather than deliberately inflicted ones (those might have more to do with Mars, or Saturn). 

The shaman's journey often 'germinates' during a serious illness, tragedy or other near death experience in their youth. In this altered state, the first visions are received. He/she likely doesn't see their childhood experience as a wound they have to heal or manage for life, but rather, as the experience through which they were initiated or called. I've become a bit wary of anyone who describes themselves outright as a 'healer'. Indeed, many who choose healing professions are working out their own pain, for better or worse. 

"The patient's treatment begins with the doctor, so to speak. Only if the doctor knows how to cope with himself and his own problems will he be able to teach the patient to do the same. " ~ Carl Jung

Chiron with Apollo and Asclepius

Ultimately, one has to become their own healer, teacher, hero and artist. Chiron  instructs our inner hero. By mastering a skill (a form of expression, art, martial art, etc), researching, seeking help from experienced professionals and being open to self-discovery, we activate our inner Chiron. Artemis and Apollo did not heal Chiron, but they provided him with all the necessary tools and a nurturing environment for gnosis - to know himself and develop his magical gifts. In alchemy, the mystical marriage of Sol and Luna represents the union of body and spirit. The midpoint (halfway mark degree) between Sun and Moon in a chart is where these energies are fused. It shows how and where we externalize our true purpose, focus on our life's work and discover what is at the heart of our well being. Absolutely essential to check in here during Chiron return ! For clues to the nature of your inner hero, look to Mars and Pallas, as well as planets in Sagittarius and Aries. 

Alchemical Fountain

Chiron has been called the "Rainbow Bridge" by some astrologers. The first thing that came up when I googled the term was an actual bridge of this name, between Canada and the US, near Niagara falls (opened on Nov 1, 1941). On it is inscribed a passage from Genesis, known as the 'Rainbow Covenant'. Basically it's an agreement from God to Moses, promising that whenever he (God) sees the rainbow, he'll be reminded of his promise not to cause any more floods, but the deeper meaning has more to to do with the rainbow being the bridge to our own higher consciousness. A more gnostic interpretation, which sounds a lot like the description of Sagittarius, would be that the rainbow symbolizes a mystical bridge or bow between Heaven and Earth, our God self and mortal self :

"The rainbow appears in the story after Noah’s flood because it is God’s promise to humanity that union with the divine can be attained again. The deluge represented an end to the great ignorance of man’s spiritual estate in heaven. The story of Noah and the ark is also a story about higher and lower consciousness, not a literal flood that destroyed every living creature."  ~ Joshua Tilghman
Rainbow Covenant  on the Rainbow Bridge

In Tarot the card representing this bridge to higher consciousness is Trump 5, the Pope/Le Pape. It's actually Jupiter, our God-self, wearing the pontiff's garb. Planet Jupiter resides in the 5th sphere from the Sun. The 5 senses connect our spirit to the material world through the body. He rules the sign of Sagittarius, the centaur with the bow and arrow. That Chiron returns to it's natal position in our charts around age 50 (actual orbit is 50.7 years) is significant. Not least because 50 reduces to 5, but for women especially, it's a time of major change within the body and psyche. There will be no more child-bearing, welcome to the wise, crone years, here is your waxing Moon bow. Trump 2, the Priestess/Papess is 'sacred' or 'secret' feminine wisdom (the Sophia). Both the Moon and Venus have crescent phases (horns) but Venus resides in the 2nd sphere from the Sun. "No man has lifted my veil of sulphuric acid." So this pair of 'holy parents' represent the passageways to both higher, spiritual consciousness and ancient, soul wisdom. 


To summarize, Chiron 

- has Sagittarius, Scorpio and Pisces connections as well as Virgo.
- is a wounded healer archetype, as well as a teacher and artist/visionary who instructs the inner hero. Does not conform, but is not a 'rebel without a cause,' either.
- provides a bridge between past and future, Heaven and Earth, lower and higher self, creating room to roam in the present zone.
- returns to it's natal position at age 50 or so. Midpoint between Sun and Moon important.

Next: CHIRON - Part 2 - A Chironic Personality - Chelsea (Bradley) Manning

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