Chiron: The Wounded Healer as Mentor

Joseph Dispenza

Chiron (pronounced KAI­ron) was the son of the Olympian god Kronos, who took on 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. He taught young Asklepios the art of healing. Asklepios was the teacher of Hippocrates — the Father of Medicine.

At birth, Chiron was rejected by his mother. But the great god Apollo adopted the child and schooled him thoroughly in the arts, sciences, and mysteries that he would need to rise above his beast nature. He lived alone in a cave and over time earned a reputation as a great healer, astrologer, prophet, and teacher. Chiron was unable to treat an incurable wound in his own knee which he had suffered through an arrow. He was, therefore, known as the ‘wounded healer.’

Chiron had many illustrious students: Achilles, the mighty Greek warrior in the battle at Troy; Asklepios, the herbalist and surgeon whose serpent entwined staff is the familiar emblem of the modern medical profession; and Hercules, the immortal hero. Chiron prepared Hercules to successfully accomplish his twelve labors — heroic acts which symbolize the challenges facing each of us on our spiritual path. Chiron was also the teacher of Jason, who recovered the Golden Fleece. Chiron told Jason which stars to steer by to attain this timeless treasure.

As an archetype, Chiron embodies key a lesson for today: how 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 — and then sharing what we learn with others. Chiron thus symbolizes the ability to establish a working bridge between the realm of the earth and the realm of Spirit.

Consider Being a Mentor

Mentors encourage others — and their presence is needed now more than ever in our homes, communities and workplaces. For many people these days, demands are increasing, feelings of isolation are common and worries abound about looking foolish for ‘not knowing the best ways to proceed’ in unfamiliar territory. Whether in our personal or professional lives, the benefit of a mentoring relationship is being able to obtain advice, learn, as well as make mistakes in a safe and supportive environment.

Counselor Pam Howard says that ‘the mentoring relationship is interdependent with the acts of giving and receiving, teaching and learning, flowing both ways.’ By mentoring others, we become aware of the limits of our own knowledge and are stimulated to continue to improve ourselves. Effective mentoring relationships are those in which both parties benefit.

The opportunities are endless when you are willing to share your knowledge and life lessons with others. Consider options such as:

  • mentoring children and students through programs with community organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, sports groups, and specialized services within schools…

  • providing direction and support to a young, single parent dealing with multiple responsibilities and limited resources…

  • assisting a college or university student to increase their knowledge of realities within your field of work…

  • guiding a younger worker within your organization in choices affecting their professional development…

  • serving as a mentor for a friend who is dealing with unfamiliar territory as they go through a major life change…

  • helping someone on a spiritual quest or undergoing a spiritual challenge, offering your own experience as a way of assisting them on their path.

Be guided in your mentoring by the spirit of Chiron, which was animated by an openness to learning, humility, self-acceptance, integrity, kindness and non-judgement, patience and perseverance, and simplicity.

Like Chiron, we all are wounded. Like Chiron, too, we can become healers out of our wounds, helping others to cross bridges that we, with effort and grace, have crossed before.

Suggested Reading

Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul
by Clare Dunne

What is not integrated from the unconscious casts itself outward as our fate.
C. G. Jung

Deftly interweaving letters and commentary with an extraordinary array of 150 ancient and contemporary images, including three of Jung’s paintings from his private journal, the unpublished ‘Red Book,’ Dunne helps readers grasp Jung’s insight that the divine contains both light and dark, and that — as a 79-year-old Jung wrote — ‘A complete life does not consist in a theoretical completeness, but in the fact that one accepts, without reservation, the particular fatal tissue in which one finds oneself embedded.

Tao Mentoring: Cultivate Collaborative Relationships in All Areas of Your Life
by Chungliang Al Huang, Jerry Lynch, Laura Archera Huxley

A beautiful, clear book about friendship, learning, teaching, growing — about life. There is joy in these pages, and love, much much love.

John Robbins, founder of EarthSave and author of Diet for a New America and May All Be Fed

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