Chiron taught Askelpios the art of healing. Today, doctors consider Asklepios to be the father of Western medicine
Chiron (ky’ ron) is one of the forgotten heroes of Greek mythology, and of course the namesake of Chiron Communications.
Chiron was the son of the Titan named Kronos, who is said to have assumed the form of a horse when he made love to Philyra, a sea nymph. Their union brought forth a centaur, a being with the head and upper body of a man, and the lower body of a horse.
The centaur child, named Chiron, was so grotesque that his mother rejected him. But Apollo, the god of poetry and music, came to the rescue. Apollo adopted the infant Chiron and schooled him thoroughly in the arts, sciences, and mysteries that he would need to rise above his beast nature.
Consequently, while centaurs in general were a rowdy lot intent primarily on drinking wine and chasing women, Chiron was different. He took up residence alone in a cave on the flank of Mount Pelion and over time earned respect as a healer, astrologer, prophet, and teacher.
Chiron had many illustrious students: Achilles, the mighty Greek warrior in the battle at Troy; Asklepios, the herbalist and surgeon who is considered the father of medicine and whose serpent-¬entwined staff is the familiar emblem of the modern medical profession, and also Herakles, the immortal hero who slew the Nemean Lion.
Chiron prepared Herakles to successfully complete his 12 labors, heroic acts which symbolize the challenges facing each human being on the spiritual path.
Chiron was also the teacher of Jason, who teamed with the Argonauts to recover the legendary Golden Fleece, the Holy Grail of its day. Chiron was able to read the sky signs, and counsel Jason on which stars to steer by to attain the timeless treasure.
As the sagas relate the course of his life, Chiron ultimately sacrificed himself to save Prometheus, the mythological figure who had stolen fire from the gods for the benefit of humanity. Prometheus was being punished horribly by the gods for this transgression until Chiron voluntarily took his place. After nine days of suffering — having his liver slowly nibbled by a vulture — Chiron was rescued by Zeus, the chief god of Olympus. Zeus took pity on the innocent Chiron, freed him and lifted him up to dwell forever among the stars.
Until recently the world had all but forgotten Chiron. Then on November 1,1977 astronomers discovered a celestial object orbiting the Sun between Saturn and Uranus. At first they thought it was a small planet, and they named it Chiron. Ever since, even though astronomers are unsure exactly what this peculiar object is (planetoid? meteor? asteroid?), the archetypes represented by Chiron — from holistic health to direct spiritual awareness — have been steadily illuminating human consciousness.
As an archetype, Chiron is said to embody the key lessons humanity is in need of now: the ability to link the daily concerns of life (paying the rent, washing the laundry, getting around in the world, and so forth) with the more profound spiritual realities. Chiron thus symbolizes the ability to establish a working bridge between the realm of the earth and the realm of Spirit, and thereby to foster a healthy balance
Chiron is represented in the language of symbols by the key, and also by the rainbow, the familiar luminescent bridge between heaven and earth.
I founded Chiron Communications in the 1980s in response to the obvious crisis of culture and environment in the modern world. This enterprise endeavors to serve as a directional signal, and also as a bridge, helping to point the way forward to a world culture where human beings live at peace with themselves and the natural world. To do that, in partnership with my wife and a wide network of professional associations, I strive to communicate not only a vision of a world that works for everyone, but also tools to help make such a vision real.
—S. McFadden, 1999
Peleus brings his son Achilles to master teacher, Chiron. (Greek vase – British Musuem)