***Get caught up with Part 1 of this series HERE.
I do not use the term “shamanic” lightly at all when discussing Chiron – I sometimes hear this word thrown around rather casually within the spiritual community (often within the context of someone describing experiences with things such as psilocybin, peyote, or ayahuasca) and to me it feels…disrespectful; as if it were some kind of catch-all term watering down the word’s real significance. While I do not dismiss the cultural and spiritual role such substances play when safely and respectfully handled in their proper ritualistic contexts by the proper people with proper training and authority, if you’re equating being in an altered state of consciousness as the sum total of “shamanic”, IMO you’ve got it all wrong. Waaaaay wrong – *that* is Neptune’s domain; more on this particular distinction in a moment.
Needless to say, I must admit that I cringe a little inside whenever this happens because to me it feels to me like cultural appropriation; especially if/when the word “shamanic” is being astrologically ascribed to a celestial body other than Chiron. Chiron is so often overlooked as it is in astrology that it hardly seems fair to take his “land” away like this; much in the same way the conquistadors of yore encroached upon the native kingdoms of indigenous peoples; the results of which were effectively cultural – if not literal – genocide. I do not want Chiron to suffer the same fate in a cosmic context, so as an astrologer I find myself rather protective of his domain and of the keywords that resonate with this vibration. In my eyes, Uranus is the clairvoyant, Neptune the mystic, and Pluto the occultist but it is Chiron alone who has the ability to walk the liminal boundary between Earth and Sky to reconnect body and Spirit with the Earth and the element of Aether for profound healing. It can be literal healing of mind/body/soul or it can be more figurative in nature, but the word “shamanic” is less about experiences with psychedelics and more about Initiation into a Medicine of one stripe or another that helps us to understand life on a profoundly different level so we can heal others. The modality(ies) can be different for each person, but the effects are the same.
I mentioned in Part 1 of this series that I have seen this celestial body’s fingerprint feature very strongly both in the charts of clients whose personal sacred beliefs resonate closely with those of indigenous peoples and those who literally follow a shamanic Path in terms of being actual healers. One of the more memorable consultations I had along these lines was for a woman seeking career guidance – I remember telling her that she had actual shamanic lineage flowing through her blood and was rather stunned when she subsequently revealed that she was in fact descended from the Inca people. Needless to say, I have no doubt in my mind her ancestors had indeed served as the village healers!
However, don’t just take my word for it – there are also many famous figures that provide us with some great examples of the Chiron vibe. The first and most literal that comes to mind is the nativity of controversial author Carlos Castaneda; a man with (not surprisingly for someone known for writing several books on the subject of Mesoamerican shamanism) Chiron in the area of his chart associated with writing and communication. Castaneda is a Capricorn (ruled by Saturn) with Aquarius Rising (co-ruled by Saturn) with Saturn sitting in tight but funky aspect to Chiron. Chiron is also linked up to fuzzy fictional Neptune, which means Saturn & Neptune are in a tight square as well; is it real, is it a hoax, or maybe it was all just a dream (or entheogens??) – no one knows for sure. Chiron is also noteworthy in his chart by virtue of the fact that it squares Jupiter and his Nodal Axis – it seems he was fated to write about this subject regardless of how contentious the publication of that material was destined to be
But many times Chiron’s “shamanic” vibe isn’t quite so literal in its expression and is instead translated through creative mediums. One of the better examples we see of this is via actor/director Kevin Costner; another Capricorn Sun but with Chiron less than a degree away from it. One of his best-known works was “Dances With Wolves”; a film that won several academy awards with its sensitive and humanizing (albeit romanticized and sentimental) depiction of Native American people; which was pretty much unheard of in the Western genre up until that point in time. Costner’s artistic vision did much to heal damage done by the Hollywood film industry’s depiction of the Native American as “the savage” – unsurprisingly, his Sun/Chiron combo is in a tight square to soft, idyllic, cinematic Neptune. One of his other best-known roles (in Field of Dreams) was that of a clairaudient man Ray Kinsella whose vision (Neptune) led to the healing of the painful wound (Chiron) he carried regarding his relationship with his father (Capricorn Sun) – if that’s not a perfect illustration of his astro, I’m not sure what is.
There is also the astrological case study of Jim Morrison; a Sagittarius with his Sun situated in a very tight square to Chiron in Virgo. Lead singer of legendary band “The Doors”, Jim also served as the group’s primary lyricist and expressed Chiron in Virgo’s energy via the written word – fitting, given Virgo’s literary ties. Chiron began affecting Jim very early on in life and one of the formative experiences he described having was the memory of driving through a Reservation with his family at age 4 and seeing a car accident involving several Native Americans. He was deeply affected by this incident in a spiritual sense and it eventually gave rise to the now-famous “Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding; ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind” lyric along with his adoption of the totemic Lizard King moniker. Jim claimed that it felt as if he were in fact possessed by the wandering souls of the Native Americans he had encountered on that fateful day; perhaps in a sense he was (metaphorically, if not literally). The Lizard symbolism seems eerily fitting if we consider its possible ties to the shamanic concept of soul loss – lizards frequently drop their tails when in danger and to me this seems to align with the premise that a trauma (such as that of a young child witnessing a horrible automobile accident) can result in a part of the soul actually being lost. IMO, it is entirely possible the souls of these individuals stayed with the young Morrison emotionally, psychologically, or perhaps in Spirit in a surrogate capacity and led him to become a sort of poet-shaman in a sense.
There are many interesting examples of the Chiron vibe in action, but I thought these astro-case studies might provide readers with a richer understanding of the word “shamanic” beyond the myopic context of just the (recreational? ritual?) use of psychedelics. Linking the (possibly hallucinogenic-induced) seeing of “visions” with the word “shamanic” is a lot like equating a Ferris Wheel with Disneyland; yes each of the formers are part and parcel of their respective latters, but just because you’re on a Ferris Wheel it doesn’t automatically mean you’re at “The Happiest Place On Earth”. The result is a rather one-dimensional perspective on what Chiron is all about and my hope in continuing this series is to help crack open the doors of perception to shift the way people understand this astrological energy.