For understanding Chiron, there’s no better guide than Liz Greene, the preeminent Jungian psychological astrologer, and author of foundational works in contemporary astrology, including Fate and Freedom, Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil, and The Luminaries, to name a few. This new book is based on a seminar Greene gave in 2005. She revised the work in 2020 during the pandemic with three more online seminars, and all of this work has now been synthesized into this book. 

Chiron is a relative newcomer in the pantheon of astrological symbols. Discovered only in 1977, it is an oddity, technically not a planet, more like something between a planetoid and a comet, part of a group of “centaurs,” a body that orbits the Sun along an erratic path between Saturn (outer limits) and Uranus (beyond outer limits.) 

As Greene points out early in this book, with the traditional planets in astrology, their names arose, and their meanings came to be understood through centuries of celestial observation and within cultures rooted in myth. This was not the case with Chiron, which derived its name in an arbitrary way. Named for the complex Greek mythological figure known as the Wounded Healer, astrologers started assigning symbolic qualities to Chiron well before they had much time to test its possible meanings by correlating its placements in people’s charts with their actual lives.

Because Chiron makes an approximately 50-year orbit around the Sun, its meanings also figure in astrological analyses of a mid-life transit each of us experiences in our early 50s. This is called the Chiron Return, and whether or not anything new and dramatic occurs, it’s an excellent time to take stock of one’s life. (In 2028, the discovery date of Chiron will itself have a Chiron return, which will be a good time for astrologers to assess the healing influence Chiron has had on astrology.)

Chiron in Love is one volume in a phenomenal set of Liz Greene’s writings and seminar transcripts published in 2023 by The Wessex Astrologer. The set includes volumes about the astrological Sun, Uranus, counseling, personality, and psychopathology. Every page offers gems of insight into human suffering and the potential for healing.  This book is a must-read for anyone interested in psychological astrology. 

In Part 1, the Nature of Chiron, Greene explains the archetypal significance of the Greek myth of Chiron. As a centaur, Chiron was half horse and half human, born an immortal god, meaning that he embodied the natures of animals, humans, and the Divine. One day, through no fault of his own, Chiron was struck by a poison arrow.  In extreme and incurable pain, he retreated to his cave. Astrologers tend to tell the story of Chiron such that he was injured and became a Wounded Healer, but Greene carefully notes that myths have multiple versions and they evolved over time. The earliest versions of the Chiron myth situated Chiron as already a compassionate teacher of medicine and esoteric arts to other centaurs well before he was wounded.

Like any sentient being, Chiron met with suffering as an inexorable characteristic of reality. Though he was a doctor, he could not cure himself. He finally found relief from suffering by making the ultimate sacrifice when Zeus offered him a deal: Chiron would give up his immortality as a god, and in exchange, Zeus would free Prometheus from the eternal suffering he’d been condemned to for, among other reasons, stealing fire. Chiron agreed to the exchange not just because to do so was noble but because there was no other option.

In astrology, the symbol for Chiron looks like a key. In charts, where Chiron resides by house, sign, and aspect with other planetary bodies, Chiron is key to understanding the kind of wounds each of us carries that can be alleviated but never cured. Visible or hidden, these anguished wounds leave scars. Such wounds result from many different kinds of trauma, and they manifest physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Chiron is a hybrid being, half human/half animal, and also divine, “bridging worlds,” as Greene puts it, like the kind of multi-valent wounding Chiron symbolizes. “The image of the hybrid reflects a state of oneness between psyche and body, spirit and matter because these opposites have not yet polarized.” In the myth, though Chiron can heal others and teaches medicine to his fellow centaurs before and after his injury, he cannot produce a cure for himself.  He experiences liberation only by making the ultimate sacrifice and—crucially-- in a relationship with others. He agrees to leave the earth plane and join the stars in the constellation Centaurus, freeing Prometheus. 

As for the book’s title, Chiron in Love, the myth would seem to have little to do with love, as Chironic wounds involve the unfairness of human suffering. “The theme of Chiron in love might at first seem like an oxymoron,” Greene writes. But the whole point of her seminar and this book is that Chironic wounds are relational wounds, “something in us which has been painfully damaged by a collision into which we have been born, of which we are a part, which is going on in the world outside us and which is going on in our inner world… a collision [which] is much bigger than we are as individuals, but we experience it in a deeply personal way.” Thus, the subtitle The Astrology of Envy, Rage, Compassion, and Wisdom captures the range of emotions Chiron speaks to.  Parts 2 through 5 of Chiron in Love are about astrological Chiron within natal charts, by transit, and in astrological synastry, i.e., between couples and within families. Because Chiron has such a long orbit around the Sun, it stays in the same sign for many years, making it also a generational signature. 

The book has many sample charts showing how Chiron figures intensely with people in complex relationships. In the chart of Sigmund Freud, for example, his natal Sun-Chiron trine (a 90-degree aspect between planets) shows how “the wound of being a permanent outsider unable to communicate with others easily helped to fuel his determination to understand the motives behind human behavior.” Without Freud, the work of Carl Jung would not have flourished. The love/hate relationship between these two men shaped both of them. Jung’s natal Sun opposed Freud’s Chiron; Jung’s Ascendant conjoined Freud’s Chiron, and Jung’s Neptune squared it. Greene writes that she has “no doubt that Freud felt bitter envy as well as deep admiration and affection toward his wayward disciple.” Freud began as Jung’s mentor and ended up trying to stop Jung from becoming what he truly was, “a mystic as well as a scientist… and in the end, this repudiation of an essential aspect of Jung’s nature helped to push Jung into affirming that he was both.” 

Another of Greene’s examples is the love-hate relationship between Hollywood actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, which has played itself out as an archetypal drama in courtrooms and the media. Chiron figures noticeably in Heard’s and Depp’s synastry, with Heard’s Chiron conjoined with Depp’s Sun, squaring his Chiron and his natal Mercury-Pluto conjunction. Of course, there’s much more to their relationship, astrologically and otherwise, including, as Greene notes, strong attraction and even empathy. “Great expectations and their inevitable disappointment lie at the heart of Chiron’s story,” Greene writes. “We expect godlike perfection from ourselves and from others… and we can’t forgive ourselves or them for being less than divine.” 

Greene concludes that “Chiron in love is also Chiron in pain.” She writes: “If we really want to make a difference in the world, we need to begin in the hidden part of our own back garden or in the alcove in the basement that no one ever sees…. With some effort, self-honesty, humility, genuine communication, and a willingness to go through Chiron’s stages from injury and rage to the acceptance of mortality, each of us might, within the individual sphere in which we work and live and in the relationships that matter in our lives, make a genuine difference.”  

~review by: Sara R. Diamond

Author: Liz Greene
The Wessex Astrologer, 2023
235 pages