The Wound Where the Light Enters / Chiron in Aries, Mimosa + Hawthorn
When I was seventeen I got my belly pierced on a whim. It was a difficult year—I was embroiled in constant fights with my mother, a situation that eventually pushed me to leave home in anger, an anger that I internalized and tried to control through an eating disorder. At the time I chalked it up to teenage angst; later I would come to find that that was the time when my progressed Chiron entered into a new sign—Cancer, the sign that rules the stomach and digestion, as well as our relationship to our mothers, motherhood and our home life as it relates to emotional development.
My experiences with Chiron transits have been so powerful that, over the years, I have become convinced of her relevance in medical astrology readings as an important bridge between the physical, emotional and psychological. If you are unfamiliar with the myth, here is a good account. Since Feb. 2011, She has been sailing through the Piscean ocean, where a collective struggle for respect and kindness towards our fellow human has been taking place. Many of us decided to lay down our weapons and face old, inner angers and resentments with the new-found compassion that the plight of others taught us to have with ourselves. We have seen ourselves painted as both the victim and the savior, perhaps now deciding to drop the weighty mantle of both with the knowledge that only I have the power to save myself. We take this understanding into the self-oriented sign of Aries next week on Feb. 18th, when we will be directly called to shift from healing the world’s needy to healing ourselves.
CHIRON IN MEDICAL ASTROLOGY
Chiron is a relative newcomer to the world of medical astrology, which is dominated by the mythos of the “gods,” or the planets. She comes as a nameless wanderer, rejected by her father and abandoned by her mother, ostracized by her peers for distancing herself from the animal instincts of her species and destined to live in a daily pain of her own making. Her reading in medical astrology is varied—she is a source of chronic pain in both the emotional and physical bodies, but also holds the key for the unique type of medicine that we need. She represents a curse that we can turn into a blessing—the crack that lets the light in, as Rumi says.
Just as the chemical compounds that are generated by plants to ward off predatory animals and insects are often times the same compounds that are considered “medicinal” for us humans, so too can our own stories of heartbreak and transcendence create a healing balm for ourselves and for those around us.
In the physical realm, the orbit of the asteroid Chiron skates between those of Saturn and Uranus, at times touching both and therefore acting as a bridge between the archetypes of the two planets. While Saturn separates, Uranus struggles to reunify, illustrating the alchemical principle of solve et coagula, wherein "nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed." Chiron is the ruler of this transformation, harvesting our painful life experiences and turning them into gratitude—the ultimate medicine. When reading a chart, she represents the bridge between our emotions and disease.
In medical astrology, Chiron often symbolizes a break of some sort, indicating painful separation but also the key that unlocks the path towards reunification. Since Chiron’s discovery in 1977, being affected by divorce or a “broken home” has become more common than uncommon, as well as the search for healing through alternative medicinal, energetic or spiritual practices.
In the natal chart, Chiron’s placement indicates the area of our lives where we have struggled with pain, sometimes manifesting physically as an injury, surgery or chronic ailment, but often times appearing in subtle ways, giving us clues as to how our physical vitality can be blocked by repressed emotions, womb trauma and inherited mentalities/beliefs.
When Chiron passes through a sign, we are given an opportunity to make medicine from the sign and house that she occupies in our natal charts. For example, her recent journey through Pisces focused healing on the unseen—dreamwork, past life regression and altered states helped us to find a connection with our own severed spirituality as many of us turned to alternative medicine or spiritual/energetic healing modalities. A spotlight was focused on the “unseen” members of our society, the underdogs, vagrants, or populations that have been historically abused or repressed. There was a proliferation of autoimmune disease, and physical issues may have been focused on immune health, as Pisces governs the immune/lymphatic systems. Where this showed up for us individually depends on what our Pisces house is—in the 3rd, we became students of alternative medicine and learned the power of language and self-talk as a healing force. In the 4th, we were called to heal trauma from our mother’s lineage and early life upbringing, perhaps changing our diet or moving our home base as a result.
Chiron briefly entered into Aries last year from April-September, giving us a glimpse of themes to come before sailing back into Pisces during her retrograde passage. Since then, we have been busy wrapping up the physical, emotional or mental issues of our Pisces house, and now that she prepares to enter Aries, it’s time to look to the Aries house of our natal charts for more information on how our lessons in healing will continue over the next 8 years.
ARIES AND THE HEART/SMALL INTESTINE ORGAN PAIR
Artist: Olga Shevchenko
Aries is ruled by Mars, the planet that symbolizes fire in 5-element theory. The energetic of fire is warming, drying, stimulating and agitating, meaning that Mars’ signs (Aries and Scorpio) are prone to conditions of excessive heat and inflammation (here is more information on tissue states used in eclectic herbal medicine), and the organ ruled by your Aries house (see image below) may experience pain, swelling or inflammation as Chiron passes through.
In the Chinese tradition, organs are paired according to their yin/yang relationship and are understood a bit differently than solely for their physiological functions, including the energetic and emotional roles they play in the body as well. While the sign of Aries has traditionally represented the head in medical astrology, with common afflictions being head injuries, accidents, stroke and headaches, I align Aries with the heart-small intestine, responsible for circulating blood throughout the body and separating useful nutrients from waste, reabsorbing the former back into the blood and sending the latter out of the body in waste form.
On the emotional level, the heart/small intestine organ pair is responsible for our ability to discern and feel happiness—
As the small intestine is bogged down with nutrient-poor or chemically altered foods, our energy levels plummet and we are not able to be decisive or act with clarity, an Aries function. We can become overwhelmed by emotion and experience difficulty in filtering healthy from unhealthy manifestations of emotion, which is a Scorpio function. The emotion associated with this organ pair is joy, and when it is in balance, we are able to feel contentment, to make decisions that are line with our happiness, and are not destabilized by spikes excessive emotion whether positive or negative.
Migraine headaches, a classical Aries affliction, can therefore be looked at as a symptom of imbalance arising from the heart/small intestine meridian. This opens up treatments options quite a bit, as we are now working with energetics and can address the cause, not the symptom. This is why I like to look beyond the traditional organ-sign associations, as headaches for example have so many possible origins that it makes more sense to study the energetics of the person as opposed to simply pairing a “Venus” herb to a “Mars” condition.
Imbalances in the heart/small intestine system can lead to conditions which eventually affect the head as heat rises, specifically migraine headaches, stroke, tinnitus and dizziness, and so understanding this connection gives us a key to selecting the most appropriate herbs for treatment. If we understand the underlying energetic of these imbalances as being hot, dry or inflamed in nature, we can then focus on herbs that are cooling, moistening, bitter, acrid or relaxant—all of which counteract or disperse heat and send energy downwards so that it stops affecting the head.
HERB ALLIES FOR CHIRON IN ARIES
So while Chiron’s entry into Aries puts focus on our heart/small intestine organ systems, it is important to note that how this will manifest in our lives and bodies largely depends on what our Aries house is in our natal charts, as well planets that we may have in Aries and their aspects to the other planets. For example, a person with Aries on the cusp of the 1st may experience frequent migraines while another with Aries on the 10th may be plagued by osteoarthritis due to the associations of the 1st and 10th houses (see chart for more house/organ associations). Treating Aries, however, by draining and dispersing heat will aid in wherever it is manifesting in the body.
Now let’s get into what we’re here to talk about—the herbs!
Mimosa Bark + Flower
Unfortunately, there are not many clinical trials detailing Mimosa’s actions, but there is a long history of usage of Mimosa in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it is known as “collective happiness bark,” a nourisher for the heart. Both the bark and flower are used in medicine under the names “huan hua” (flowers) and “he huan pi” (bark), the bark being more grounding and anchoring to the spirit while the flower is more dispersive of energy, lifting heaviness in the spirit. The flowers have been used for the treatment of insomnia, disturbed dreaming, amnesia, sore throat, and contusion, as well as depression, melancholy and anxiety of the monkey-mind variety with feelings of heaviness in the chest. Its effect on mood is thought to be due to an enhancement of all aspects of neurotransmitter secretion and regulation.
Other indications include trouble deciding or initiating, as well as a “stuck” feeling emotionally that over time can lead to feelings of bitterness or being jaded. The bark’s use for treating bruises, sprains, premenstrual tension and broken bones speaks to its’ capacity for moving and invigorating blood, and it is also known to help with pain, inflammation, and swelling when taken internally. Herbalist Kiva Rose speaks of mimosa as helping those who display misplaced emotions such as volatility and anger due to grief or hurt, and Thomas Easley notes that mimosa can also help with poor memory function due to suppressed emotions.
The taste of Mimosa is sweet and balanced/neutral, suggesting its’ action as a harmonizer and integrator of emotions, as well as its’ ability to bring the sweetness of life back into awareness. Its’ actions are calming, sedative, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, drying and analgesic. For dosing, Michael Tierra recommends about 9 to 15 grams a day of the bark in tea form, or about a quarter to a half ounce of the plant, and up to a tablespoon of tincture three times a day for severe cases. I would recommend a lighter dose for the flower, as its effects can leave you feeling a little too flighty when taken in high doses.
It must be noted that due to Mimosa’s uplifting energy and effect on the emotions, it can induce mania in individuals who are disposed to mood disorders. For these folks, the bark is better than the flower, and caution should be taken in administering the appropriate dose—when in doubt, start with low doses and work your way up.
Hawthorn has a well-established history of use as heart medicine, as both a strengthener of heart contractions and a normalizer of blood pressure. Emotionally, Hawthorn has also been used as “broken heart” medicine, helping to re-establish healthy boundaries for those who have been abused or taken advantage of. The leaf, flower and berry are all used medicinally, but I like to use the berry for its nutritive concentration of flavonoids, which fortify blood vessels and support the overall resilience of the cardiovascular system. Other actions include: reducing inflammation in the blood vessels, increasing the blood flow to the heart muscle, calming palpitations, protecting against the hardening of the arteries, decreasing blood lipid levels (LDL), reducing blood pressure if it is elevated and opening blocked circulation, protecting from both stroke and heart disease.
In trials, Hawthorn was shown to decrease fatigue and shortness of breath, as well as increasing exercise tolerance. The Traditional Chinese Medicine use of Hawthorne for fat digestion highlights the ability of the antioxidants in the berry to prevent cholesterol deposits from oxidizing, also relating it to small intestine function. As a digestive aid it addresses food stagnation leading to flatulence, bloating, loose stools and poor appetite.
Besides being a protector for the heart, Hawthorne cools and calms inflammation, and can also be used in cases of hyperactivity, night sweats, insomnia, anxiety, paranoia, feverishness, menopausal syndromes, restlessness or ADHD (per Matthew Wood). It may be suited for some cases of PMS where stuck blood is a factor, and due to its’ effect on fat metabolism it can be useful for cases of cholesterol-based stones or nodules. The flavor is sour, slightly sweet, slightly warm, bitter, astringent and slightly moist. Its’ effects are anti arrhythmic, antioxidant, nutritive, cardiotonic, cardioprotective, anxiolytic, trophorestorative for the heart, nourishing, restoring, sedating, mild diuretic, astringent and hypotensive/blood pressure normalizing. The recommended dose is for a tea is 1 tablespoon of the pulverized berries in 8-10 oz hot water, allow to steep for 15-25 minutes, three or more cups/day. For tincture, 90 drops 3 times/day. Doses can be much lower if using Hawthorne solely for emotional balancing.
MARS, CHIRON + TOXIC MASCULINITY
With Chiron entering into a traditionally “masculine” sign, we may be challenged by manifestations of toxic masculinity via violence, control or ruthless ambition erupting into the communal consciousness in order to be healed and re-integrated. There will be the opportunity for us as a culture to have a conversation about consent, abuse and healthy sexuality, and we may see arenas that have been traditionally competitive evolve into more inclusive, cooperative environments as a result. What it means to be a “real man” will be challenged for all of us, and the emotional blocks placed on the masculine archetype that inhibit men from expressing our full range of emotions will be questioned. As Chiron indicates brokenness, we may see ailments originating from the suppression of a broken heart leading to what looks like mental imbalance, but is actually emotional confusion. We may see a surge of antidepressant, mood stabilizing or ADHD prescriptions as we explore the links between emotional health and brain function. Female energy will be a wise teacher during this time, as we may be called into situations where solidarity, sisterhood and community support are critical, and yin tonics may also be helpful allies for us as we navigate these energies.
On the macrocosmic level, our community may also see an escalation of gun violence as a manifestation of the violence that repressed emotions can generate. Our herb allies can help us with emotional release, but part of our work and responsibility as individuals will be to identify where our anger does not serve us, and to find appropriate platforms where our emotions will not hurt others. We all get angry—in fact, anger is an essential and healthy form of protection, but if it is not expressed it can damage our bodies and become self-defeating in the long run. Finding ways to channel our anger through sports or artistic expression gives us a way to honor its’ source (often based in trauma) while we release the rawness of the emotion itself, which becomes poison in the body if held for too long.
For those of us who have been affected by violence, aggression or the soul-reductive constructs of patriarchy, these next few years will be a profound time of uncovering, processing, releasing and liberating. While we may feel lost at times (Aries rules our sense of direction and assertion), remember that being lost is an important part of a larger process of self-discovery. If we close ourselves off to the possibility of getting lost, how can we discover anything new? Just listen to your inner drum—the heartbeat—and remember that we are all part of a larger, global family. While our paths may take us away on solitary journeys within these next 8 years, we will always be led back home by their wild call, a universal song of which we are all a part.