Welcome to the Chiron Code / A Blog of Syncretic Herbalism Inspired by Western Astrology + Classical Chinese Medicine
A Blog of Syncretic Herbalism
Inspired by Western Astrology + Classical Chinese Medicine
We are perfect.
Every single one of us, simply by virtue of being alive, is a unique expression of the earth’s energies arranged in a dazzling amount of combinations, the way the sticks fall in I Ching. Just as nature wastes none of her precious energy, there can be no mistakes in the way that we humans understand them. The same is true for our existence as well—we are given everything we need to be happy, healthy and balanced if our emotions did not pit us constantly in the ego’s wild goose chase. We are all made of the same material—you, I, the stars above us, the night that holds them…as we are a part of the Earth herself, what else could we be but perfection wrapped in the illusion of brokenness?
The concept that I am speaking to sunk home for me when I started studying herbal medicine and first heard the term “vitalism,” a state of balance between all of the body’s systems that generates resilience. Vitalism suggests that the only true healer is ourselves; only the body can “fix” itself, and herbs simply act as catalyst forces that nudge the body into re-establishing its own internal balance. Interestingly, this is why many of the most effective herbal treatments are actually poisons taken in super low doses. On the other hand, allopathic medicine introduces army force medicines that often destabilize other systems, incurring symptoms that are then called the drug’s “side effects.”
Given that everything is interconnected in this existence, vitalism also suggests that emotional awareness and integration are equally as important as physical practices when it comes to maintaining health.
In fact, health isn’t a fixed goal, rather it is the amount of resilience and flexibility one has to navigate the constantly shifting energies of our environment, represented by the transits in astrology. If we are balanced internally/energetically, it is easier for us achieve balance externally/physically—this is the essence of vitality.
Everything is a fractal existing in a series of ever-changing yet rhythmically balanced relationships, held together by a code of information that cultures have deciphered in practices such as science, philosophy, religion and astrology, to name a few. All of these languages exist to study the same thing—the hidden threads that connect all life. Many ancient cultures cultivated an awareness of the fluid symbioses that create vitality, such as the yin/yang philosophy espoused by Chinese medicine, where yin supports and nourishes while yang disperses and acts. The body, as an extension of the natural world, can be studied in the same way as a Chinese landscape painting, as an ecosystem that contains multiple layers of internal checks and balances, otherwise known as feedback loops.
“Heaven is covered with constellations, Earth with waterways, and man with channels.”
-Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine (黄帝内经, huang di nei jing)
Planets have their own feedback loops as well, only they’re called synodic cycles in astrology. Synodic cycles examine the dance that 2 planets share with each other to explain more about the nature of the relationship that those planets share. For example, Saturn and Jupiter act as counteracting forces, Saturn mitigating the unchecked expansion of Jupiter and Jupiter inspiring Saturn to look beyond the limits. On the largest scale, the pull from Saturn’s orbit reigns in Jupiter from careening into our Sun and taking us all with him! This is a fractal representation of the way our own bodies, our own inner solar systems maintain homeostasis—with a series of cyclical checks and balances. Many ancient societies spoke to this analog when they described the human body as a microcosm of the macrocosm.
Rather than assign the traditional organ rulership to the planets wherein the Sun governs the heart, Mars the blood, etc., I prefer to imagine the planets as channels of cosmic energy, much like rivers flowing from the Sun (an analogue of qi) in ways that moderate the flow of energy.
As water moves in its’ own natural, closed-loop cycle, so too does vital energy—a process illustrated by the the cycle of the zodiac.
While the energy is far away from us in space, it is more abstract in its’ manifestations, but as it draws closer to us, it filters through the codex of the signs and then the houses, becoming more concrete and consolidated the closer it comes to our physical level of existence. For example, Mars exists as a concept, but Aries/Scorpio, the signs that Mars rules, exist as an organ system that manifests the concept of what Mars is. After that, the houses that Mars rules, 1 and 8, manifest as physical locations in the body that the energy of Mars can pass through. To better understand this concept, imagine a stream—where we meet the the stream is the astrological house, the hidden source of the stream is the sign and the connection of the stream to all of earth’s water is the planet. This principle will be spoken to often in this blog with multiple examples, so don’t worry if it feels too abstract for now.
If you are familiar with the practice of medical astrology, you might recognize the traditional planet/organ associations such as Venus ruling the glands, the Moon ruling digestion and fertility, etc. These associations were originally attached based on resonances between the planet’s function and the function of the organ, but I found that this system produces some challenge when thinking of treatment options, as you end up often treating the symptom and not the cause—filtering the stream and not its’ source, if you will. But if we think about the planets as descriptions of how vital energy flows, we are reduced to some simple definitions:
SUN. Vital energy, yang
MOON. the physical manifestation of vital energy as blood and bodily fluids, yin
MERCURY. metabolizes, transforms and transports energy, creating tension and dryness
VENUS. refines, generates and balances energy, creating relaxation and dampness
MARS. stimulates, agitates and contracts, creating heat
JUPITER. spreads, expands and nourishes, creating tension and dampness
SATURN. builds, consolidates and breaks down, creating cold and dryness
So while the planets are channels that moderate the flow of cosmic energy, the signs that they rule symbolize physical manifestations of their functions—organ pairings. An explanation of Chinese organ pairs can be found here, and more information on the connection between the signs and the organ pairs will be divulged as the blog continues. Our first topic as Chiron prepares to ingress into Aries is Mars, the fire element, the heart/small intestine organ pair and healing from toxic masculinity with the herbal allies Mimosa and Hawthorn. In honor of the star of the first post, Chiron, I felt it fitting to name the blog after her, especially because of her close relationship to the path of the herbalist.
So welcome, friends, to the birth of this blog and thank you for your presence in the circle—together we walk the spiral path!