Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of July 4th, - July 10th, 2008

Chiron, King of the Centaurs

Columns Archive

The Education of Achilles

  Chiron was a figure of Greek mythology who was said to have been mentor to many of the heroes of antiquity, such as (in alphabetical order) Achilles, Actaeon, Aeneas, Ajax, Aristaeus, Asclepius, Caeneus, Jason, Medus, Oileus, Patroclus, Peleus, Phoenix, Telamon and Theseus. Heracles rose to divine status with Chiron's help, and even the god Dionysus was schooled by the centaur. The obvious implication here is that without Chiron's expert instruction, none of these contemporary stars would have become the legendary heroes we know today.

  Chiron was king of the centaurs, a band of raucous, indulgent, party-loving carousers, notorious for merriment and violence when drunk. Today we call them Sagittarians. When you consider that the smell of wine alone could excite them, it was a randy crowd indeed. Centaurs, like satyrs and the French, are full of 'Joie de vivre,' the joy of living. Chiron, youngest and last of the centaurs, had risen above the more callous side of these sentient, homoequine creatures. Unlike his band, he was said to be intelligent, wise, civilized and kind. His knowledge in many fields was extensive. He was even said to have mastered astrology, but it was his work in healing and medicine that he is most remembered for.

Greek Chiron and Achilles

The Greek version

  The root of the word 'chiropractor' is derived from the healer Chiron. When we think of a chiropractor, most of us think about the bones and skeletal system, and the way in which they can impact the nerves, muscles and organs. Yet the etymological core of the word relates to none of these. 'Chiro' means 'hand,' while praktikos is Greek for practical. Translation? A practical hand or a handy man. For the chiropractor, hands are the healers.

  There is an astrological theory that says when a new planet is discovered its consciousness is heightened so that we become more aware of it.



When Uranus was discovered in the late 18th century, the American and French Revolutions were taking place. When Neptune was discovered in the mid-19th century, it corresponded to the discovery and use of drugs that were able to anesthetize individuals during surgery, by-passing considerable trauma and pain. In the 20th century with the discovery of Pluto, the Nazis and underworld corruption of Chicago burrowed their way into the headlines.

  Chiron was discovered on November 1st, 1977. It is smaller than the planets, its orbit fairly eccentric. It travels out further than Uranus, and yet loops inside the orbit of Saturn, the grandfather and father of Chiron, respectively.

  Because Chiron 'weaves together' the orbits of Saturn and Uranus, it is thought to be the bridge between the material and spiritual realms. Saturn is the last of the visible, naked eye planets, while Uranus was the first of the outer bodies to be discovered, rocking standard conventions in a very conservative world. Chiron's job is to teach us the ways of the material world in order that we might transcend it, rise to our highest potential, and move beyond the limits of physical reality. In his living Chiron healed and instructed others. In his death he prayed to Zeus to be released from his immortality, as the pain of living was simply too strong. He was able to extend his wisdom to include even the balm of death itself, a deep elixir indeed.


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