CENTAUR – CHIRON, The Wounded Healer

Created 03/31 11:14 AM   Modified 08/27 02:27 PM




Wounded Healer






































Traditional Views:

Cheiron was instructed by Apollo and Diana, and was renowned for his skill in hunting, medicine, music, and the art of prophecy. The most distinguished heroes of Grecian story were his pupils. Among the rest the infant AEsculapius was entrusted to his charge by Apollo, his father. When the sage returned to his home bearing the infant, his daughter Ocyrhoe came forth to meet him, and at sight of the child burst forth into a prophetic strain (for she was a prophetess), foretelling the glory that he was to achieve. AEsculapius when grown up became a renowned physician, and even in one instance succeeded in restoring the dead to life. Pluto resented this, and Jupiter, at his request, struck the bold physician with lightning, and killed him, but after his death received him into the number of the gods.  Chiron was the wisest and most just of all the Centaurs, and at his death Jupiter placed him among the stars as the constellation Sagittarius.  (Thomas Bullfinch, 1855.  Bullfinch’s Mythology Chapter XVI. MONSTERS.)  and see  the Perseus Project page on Chiron. more.



Among the heroes, Cheiron’s most distinguished student was Aesculapius, founder of the great Greek Healing cult:

But some affirm that Aesculapius was not a son of Arsinoe, daughter of Leucippus, but that he was a son of Coronis, daughter of Phlegyas in Thessaly. 8 [p. 2.15] And they say that Apollo loved her and at once consorted with her, but that she, against her father’s judgment, preferred and cohabited with Ischys, brother of Caeneus. Apollo cursed the raven that brought the tidings and made him black instead of white, as he had been before; but he killed Coronis. As she was burning, he snatched the babe from the pyre and brought it to Chiron, the centaur, 9 by [p. 2.17] whom he was brought up and taught the arts of healing and hunting. And having become a surgeon, and carried the art to a great pitch, he not only prevented some from dying, but even raised up the dead; for he had received from Athena the blood that flowed from the veins of the Gorgon, and while he used the blood that flowed from the veins on the left side for the bane of mankind, he used the blood that flowed from the right side for salvation, and by that means he raised the dead. 10 Commentary from the  Pseudo-Apollodorus Library 3.10.3-4

and see the Perseus Project’s page on Aesculapius.




Cheiron was wounded in two senses: 

(1) he was abandoned as an infant — and thereby provides the organizing theme for therapeutic regimens that emphasize dealing with childhood stress, trauma, or abuse.  [See, for example, The Wounded Healer Journal]

(2) he was accidentally wounded by a poisoned arrow loosed by Herakles during a melee — having been made immortal, he would have suffered forever except for the efforts of his friends.  Read Pseudo-Apollodorus (above)


CG Jung helped promote the archetype of the Wounded Healer:

“The patient’s treatment begins with the doctor, so to speak. Only if the doctor knows how to cope with himself and his own problems will he be able to teach the patient to do the same.   The doctor is effective only when he himself is affected. “Only the wounded physician heals.” But when the doctor wears his personality like a coat of armor, he has no effect. (Jung 1989:132, 134)


Henri Nouwen helped promote the view of the minister or other community leaders as a Wounded Healer:

Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest,  wrote The Wounded Healer to explained how one’s ministry is enhanced after one acknowledges the way in which we have been wounded.  At the heart is unresolved wounds — anger, grief, frustration — and the need to acknowledge and work to heal them.   Don’t merely touch me, Doubting Thomas, said Jesus, but touch my wounds! [Gospel according to John: ]. . . to be healed.   Nouwen’ s book speaks (according to the publisher) “directly to those men and women who want to be of service in their church or community, but have found the traditional ways often threatening and ineffective. In this book, Henri Nouwen combines creative case studies of ministry with stories from diverse cultures and religious traditions in preparing a new model for ministry. Weaving keen cultural analysis with his psychological and religious insights, Nouwen has come up with a balanced and creative theology of service that begins with the realization of fundamental roundedness in human nature. Emphasizing that which is in humanity common to both minister and believer, this roundedness can serve as a source of strength and healing when counseling others. Nouwen proceeds to develop his approach to ministry with an analysis of sufferings — a suffering world, a suffering generation, a suffering person, and a suffering minister. It is his contention that ministers are called to recognize the sufferings of their time in their own hearts and make that recognition the starting point of their service. For Nouwen, ministers must be willing to go beyond their professional role and leave themselves open as fellow human beings with the same wounds and suffering — in the image of Christ. In other words, we heal from our own wounds. Filled with examples from everyday experience, The Wounded Healer is a thoughtful and insightful guide that will be welcomed by anyone engaged in the service of others. ” (The Wounded Healer  by Henri J. M. Nouwen   Paperback Reissue edition (March 1, 1979) Image Books; ISBN: 0385148038)




Astrological views:

Cheiron, “the Wounded Healer” is a prominent element in astrological thinking:  His wound can be our gift, and astrological thinking can help us locate our wound so that we may tend it: visit one such  http://www.sonic.net/~snelli/


another version: http://www.thezodiac.com/chiron.htm#chiron answers questions about Chiron in one’s birth chart







































Is “THE WOUNDED HEALER” an icon of an adaptive function of SELF-KNOWLEDGE facilitated by making or experiencing art.  And look at Greenberg (1999) presentation about the Wounded Healer and comments on

reconciling “the organ of civilization” with the “beast in the brain”







(Greenberg 1999)

recalling that the cognitive elements that converge in creative work find an element of resonance in Shelley’s lines,

“Most wretched men/ Are cradled into poetry by wrong:/ They learn in suffering what they teach in song”


“What if imagination and art are not frosting at all, but the fountainhead of human experience? 


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last revision 4/1/99 // 2022