“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
The Chiron Return happens to us all at the age of around fifty, a deeply emotional transit where we find ourselves standing at the threshold between life and death, a liminal place between the worlds. It is there that we are faced with the spectral shades of all that has gone before, and witness them as they blend and dance, merge and become indistinct in the face of the enveloping darkness of the unknown that lies ahead.
Although it is widely accepted that ‘nothing is certain, apart from death & taxes’, like Janus, the “Chironian” looks both forwards and back, seeing the duality of light & dark, life and death, all around, as he/she struggles to walk bravely into a future that has only one possible ending. We come to recognise with a gradual and painful finality , that our paths are now limited, that fewer options are possible; in the darkest hours of the night, we are assailed by the bang and clatter of closing doors.
The evidence can often be experienced as some form of limitation, perhaps physical or mental atrophy, often the most obvious physical manifestations of our fifty years of physical life on earth. We begin to notice in our bodies, signs that are clearly no longer the product of our imagination. We have stiffer joints, greying hair, and skin that is losing the elasticity of youth; for women, the fact must be accepted that we will no longer bear children.
In the face of these obvious indications of our mortality, we enter a place of grief; we grieve for the person that we were and anticipate our death, for we finally understand that when at last we have gone, it will only be others who knew us, those who remain, who may shed their tears over our mortal bodies.
From this place of grief and loss we learn much, as anyone who has lost someone close to them can testify. Anger, Sadness, Rage, Denial; all are present, together with the momentary bliss of amnesia, the magical moments when we go for a period of time “forgetting” where we are in life. And then we glimpse something that reminds us; the stranger that glances back with shadowed eyes from the mirror, the hands that belong to someone else, and the friends that we haven’t seen for years, who we barely recognise. They all stand with us, assistant mourners, clamouring silently for justice, for a reprieve, another chance, a silent beseeching, that falls on deaf ears amidst the thickening gloom.
For women especially, this time can be most painful, age has become a sin. No longer is it respected, as it was in times gone by. We have become seduced by a culture obsessed with physical appearance, the body beautiful reigns supreme, along with the beautiful life, the perfect relationship, and the dream job and maintaining it all effortlessly through positive manifestation! Today more than ever, there is huge pressure from the “social network” to stay young, fit, smooth and infinitely supple, to stand steadfast at the threshold and hold back the tide, not to “let yourself go”. We are educated to deny that it is happening, this ageing, but what are we really trying to deny? deny death? deny life? who are we trying to fool? why do we feel guilty about letting go?
The new vista that is now opening up, is likely to have first made its appearance at the Uranus mid life opposition which occurs at around 42 and covers roughly a three year period. Often a tumultuous time of life, this phase marks the emergence of a new direction, new feelings, and is notorious for upheaval and life change in order that the necessary reorientation can begin. There is often a race to recapture our “lost youth” as we sense it slipping from our grasp, something that can manifest in a variety of ways. There is the old cliche : “relationships with people you would have dated 20 years ago”, the current favourite: “I can still run up that mountain” and a far less known about manifestation: “the race to finally get that education, because I dropped out when I was younger”. All these behaviours have their own pinnacle of attainment, and yet at its root, the same deep yearning to let the world know that we can “still do it” and that time is definitely NOT running out, not for us. The secret we dare not say, is that we have heard it, that voice, somewhere very deep inside of us, we have heard the small quiet voice that speaks of death.
This poem is a fantastic embodiment, I feel, about the energy of the Chiron Return. ❤
For the Chironian, at age fifty, comes the task of putting the “idea” of change that started to emerge at forty two, into physical practice. The last seven years have been the “warm up”, “getting used to the idea” and “setting the scene” for the rest of our physical lives, even for the second half of our lives if we are healthy and optimistic! Now begins the task of letting go of anything further that is still hampering us in our journey, for as I have found through bitter experience, “if we do not go willingly, then the universe will drag us kicking and screaming regardless”. As Chiron returns, we finally come face to face with our “primal wounding”, often an event from our earliest life, often too deep to be consciously remembered. It is this that lies at the heart of our search, as, like Chiron, who made his life as a teacher and healer through the search for his own cure, we look in our latter life for the essence of “who we are”; a yearning to understand our place in the universe. In healing, or at least coming to terms with our own pain, we find that we can also offer something back to the world, a period of attonement and perhaps peace, before we, like Chiron, return again once more, to the stars.
Header Art: Vasilisa & Baba Yaga: Vania Zouravliov