|Management of Measurement Constructs
Analytical Techniques, October 30, 2006Chiron: Choosing the Bridge to Freedom By Roderick Benns
Roderick Benns is an accredited astrologer through the Canadian Association for Astrological Education and continues his studies under Noel Tyl. He is a regular contributor to Dell Horoscope Magazine and is the author of the self-published Chiron: Facilitator of Destinies. He has also lectured on Chiron at astrology seminars and continues to help bring this planet into mainstream psychological astrology. Roderick is an award-winning journalist, having captured a 1st place national newspaper award in the late 1990s in the category ‘journalistic initiative.’ His website and further information about his self-published treatise on Chiron: email@example.com
Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living...wisdom begins in wonder.” To lead an unexamined life, then, suggests we live merely to cope, never choosing to agitate or prod for possibilities, but instead simply living with day to day realities. It is an energy of ‘getting by.’
Chiron is a symbol of continuous adjustment in order to make changes that will ensure growth. It eschews the unexamined life because it necessarily requires the realm of experience in order to manifest wholly and completely. Chiron is an agitator in the birth chart, representing (through House position and aspect structures) where necessary pain precedes adjustment in order to function more easily and authentically. These levels of awareness manifest only when there is a healthy self-esteem and self-acceptance.
As I write in Chiron: Facilitator of Destinies, at a primary stage, Chiron symbolizes a need for self-acceptance, related to its chart position and contacts. When Chiron is operating at a base level, this can be all consuming. Beyond this primary stage, Chiron represents correcting or aligning, on the path to self-actualization. But if we do not move beyond the first part of Chiron – self-acceptance – then it is likely we will be caught in the psychodynamics of a poor self-worth profile. Chiron will underscore where that poor self-worth is focused.
Let’s take a look at the chart of one of the world’s most famous movie stars, Cary Grant (birth time: 1:00 am UT, Bristol, England, 27- Libra rising). Born Archie Leach, ‘Grant’ was an only child who had a dismal childhood. Notice the heavy anchor to the north, with nine planets there, including Chiron. There is a sense of many hurdles in the way of getting off of the ground. Yet the ambitious Sun in Capricorn rules the Midheaven, suggesting that the career has the opportunity to be a key shaper of life.
Chiron is particularly notable through its conjunctions with the Sun, Mercury and even the Moon in Aquarius (albeit a six degree orb) from its 3rd House vantage point. Grant’s mother, Elsie, was placed in a mental institution when Grant was nine, validating our assumption of the Chiron-Moon dynamic, especially as we note the rounded-off birth time. His father told the young Grant that his mother was dead. It was only when he was in his twenties that Grant learned she was still alive, in an institution! This also points to the Chiron-Sun dynamic, given his father’s part in his life-shaping childhood story.
Grant was left with insecurity in his relations with women and a tendency to secretiveness about his inner life. The detachment potential of the Aquarian Moon is implicated here also. Chiron, in the realm of the ‘early environment,’ as well as its connection with the luminaries and Mercury, symbolized the wounds of Grant’s childhood. His ability to communicate effectively would become his launching pad for reaching a higher potential for his life path.
“I received only a sketchy education by most scholastic standards, lacked confidence and the courage to enjoy life…” said Grant in a reflective essay. Yet these insecurities and setbacks, by his own admission, led him to create a new persona that would attract success. Over time, Grant created a unique accent (Third House emphasis) and persona that mixed working and upper class communication styles.
Although Grant's personal life was complicated (he had five marriages amid rampant speculation about his sexual preference) he overcame his early childhood demons to become one of the world’s most unique and celebrated leading men. Grant’s willingness to make fundamental changes in his own identity, his own mindset and communication style, proved powerfully transformative.
Interestingly, Grant’s eventual reconciliation with his movie persona and his own personality (a movement toward his ultimate personal growth and self-actualization) was made clear in another personal essay.
“I have spent the greater part of my life fluctuating between Archie Leach and Cary Grant; unsure of either, suspecting each. Only recently have I begun to unify them into one person: the man and boy in me, the hate and the love and all the degrees of each in me...”
Grant’s acceptance of his personal freedom to design his life in any way he wanted was the key. He made it a personal expectation that he would overcome his challenges and make the necessary changes. It is only when we give up our freedom and fail to exercise our individual potential that we truly falter.
Chiron and Freedom
Difficulties in life are often the result of being unsure how to manage individual freedoms. Conceptually, this is the movement from Saturn (necessary controls) to Uranus (unbridled freedom). Chiron plays an important bridging role here that has profound psychological implications in understanding the nature of freedom.
Erich Fromm, the famed psychoanalyst and social observer, wrote what was perhaps his greatest treatise in the 1940s, entitled Escape From Freedom. In this book, Fromm notes that human beings have a deep longing for freedom, but on the other hand, they fear the pain associated with something that leads to authentic growth.
Consider the Middle Ages, a time that everyone could easily navigate: one knew where one stood. Peasant families bore peasant children. Aristocrats bore aristocrats, and so on. Well-demarcated personal identity was free from any speculative doubt.
But soon after, the emerging concept of the individual with his or her own thoughts, feelings, morals, values, and responsibility, came into being. At the same time, though, such individuality brought new isolation, alienation, and confusion.
Fromm describes three ways in which we escape from freedom:
1. Authoritarianism. – This is seeking to avoid freedom by becoming a part of an authoritarian system, either by becoming passive and compliant (the controlled) or by becoming an authority (controller). --Hitler could come to power because the individual in Germany, from a collective psychological perspective, was willing to give up freedom in exchange for certainty, the certainty he could provide.
2. Destructiveness -- This is responding to the potential pain of freedom by striking out against the world. There is isolation from society, little remorse, and an inclination to deal with freedom through criminal acts.
3. Conformity. – This is choosing not to have a strong or divergent opinion; we adapting to the world around oneself to remain protected, safe. Having an ‘automaton mindset’ to blend in with the wallpaper.
It is this latter tendency that is most prevalent in society. As social observers, how many times have we seen people escape from freedom through paralysing inaction? How many times have we seen the regret of lost days, lost years, in the eyes of the woman or man seated across from us, all because the desire to get by has trumped the desire to dream?
In our purview as consultants, we astrologers often see this reflected in relationships in particular. People are often anxious to lose themselves in relationships of dependence, which take away their freedom. They surrender themselves to the expectations of another in a daily routine of compromises that truly limits their own growth and freedom. It is within this strong dependence and within this loss of freedom that the self will eventually come to feel revulsion, rather than love for their partner.
Chiron is an excellent place to begin to face up to this dynamic. It is representative of where change should be made, of where authentic growth can take root at a meaningful level. Chiron does not want the individual to escape from freedom; the symbol instead asks that we learn to embrace it willingly. It is a change agent within our personality matrix. It embodies the frustrations and fruits of examining our inner structures (Saturn) and of turning our face, willingly, to see the view on the other side of the bridge (Uranus).
As astrologers, we must be acutely aware of this tendency that exists within many people (including ourselves). We must help clients to connect beyond an unexamined life, to connect to the life-changing freedom of choice. Within the beauty of the planetary pantheon, while Chiron is a companion to this search, it is we ultimately who must help the person across from us to see our beauty within.
Next Update: November 30, 2006