Cronos, Lord Time, was married to his sister, Rhea, mother of gods. However, as siblings, he knew her all his life, and often expressed his lack of passion to his sister/wife, “Come on, you are like a sister to me after all these eons, we should explore opening our relationship, you know, have sex with other things, maybe it will bring us together and reignite our passion? What do you say? Ha?” Of course Rhea found all of this very disturbing and hoped that her lack of answer will be understood as being her answer. One thing you should know about Cronos and Rhea contentious relationship. He had the dreadful habit of eating their children.
And so, Cronos wasted no time and cruised the land and sea and fell in lust with Philyra, a stunningly beautiful and seductive sea nymph. After a great deal of wooing, he finally made her have sex with him and right at the moment of penetration, Rhea in all her glory appeared in front of the naked couple.
Knowing he is in trouble, Cronos did what every reasonable god would do and transformed into a stallion. He escaped the scene, leaving the women to deal with the situation. Rhea did not have to do anything, as her mere presence took care of her wrath.
Because Cronos transmuted into a horse right when he ejaculated, poor Philyra was conceived by horse’s semen. Rhea understood it and that is why she left without punishing the nymph. The mother of gods was after all married the Lord Time, so she developed the ability to remember the future, and she saw Philyra giving birth to a monster, a hybrid, half horse and half human. And indeed as was foreseen, Philyra birthed a Centaur with a body of a horse and a human torso. She failed to see the majesty of her newborn reflected in his wise eyes. She cast him away and begged the gods to transform her into something so different than the shape of her son so that no one would ever suspect that the boy looks like…his mother. Rhea heard the nymph’s prayer and she transformed her into a linden tree. The baby centaur, nameless, motherless, was abandoned at the foot of a magnificent lush linden tree.
According to British Herbal Compendium. Vol. 1: 142–144 Linden flowers are used in herbalism for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), and as a diuretic (increases urine production), and sedative.
However, there was another goddess involved in the tale. When Philyra was in labor, Artemis heard her wails. The huntress, goddess of wilderness and the moon, is also the lady of child birthing. It was a total lunar eclipse and the moon was bleeding a red halo. Artemis knew something unexpected is to take place and her huntress instincts lead her to Philyra.
I would not get into the detail of the delivery as you can imagine how much pain involves giving birth to an equine. After the head and all four legs came into the light and the centaur took its first breath, Artemis left, as her job was done and any delay can start a new chain of action and reaction, cause and effect, that alas, could change the thread of events dictated by the three fates. But she did turn back one last time to look at the nativity scene. And what she saw did not please her.
Artemis saw Philyra fall into a severe case of Postpartum depression and was inattentive to her baby. She could also hear her prayers to take away the newborn and transform and transfer her from her baby. Artemis, disgusted by the repulsion the mother expressed towards her child, decided she has seen enough, and turned to go. But once again she had to turn around when she heard a shriek coming from Philyra. Artemis witnessed her turning to a new tree species, a linden tree. And under the tree was the poor baby she helped deliver, staring at the tree, confused, tearful, cold and hungry.
Something shifted in Artemis and she found herself doing something she vowed never to do as the goddess of child-birthing. She took pity on the orphan of a woman who died in birth and took him with her wings. She knew what terrible life he would have. Humans, demigods and even some bigot gods and goddess would call him “mother slayer.” It was not pity, she kept telling herself as she nursed him; it is destiny. Since it happened at dawn, Artemis could see the first rays of Apollo, the sun god and her beloved twin brother, bringing color back to creation. Therefore Artemis decided to ask him what he thinks should be done with the creature.
When Apollo, the god of medicine, music, archery, and most important to this story, the god of prophesy, looked at the little hybrid, he could immediately see into the newborn’s destiny. He had his grandmother’s gift of remembering things that are yet to happen. He smiled like only a god of sun can, a smile that warms the heart, bones, mind and soul, and said, “we should adopt the little horsey.”
Thus the worse day of Chiron short life, the day of his abandonment, turned out sunny nevertheless and he was legally adapted by the Sun and the Moon. Equipped with the genetic material bestowed on him by his biological parents Lord Time and his Oceanid mistress, as well as the loving and nurturing environment provided by his benevolent adoptive family, Chiron turned out great. He became a renowned teacher and healer and his students included mythological celebrities such as Jason of the Argonauts, Achilles and his lover Patroclus, Hercules, Perseus slayer of Medusa, Dionysus, and Theseus vanquisher of the Minotaur, just to name a few.
However, mighty Hercules, while muscled in his body was not endowed with a strong mind. And in a fatal case of mistaken identity, shot an arrow dipped with the poisoned blood of Hyra, hitting Chrion, his beloved mentor, in his thigh. Since the Hydra’s blood is deadly, Chrion collapsed and was about to die when Apollo and Artemis, who loved and adored their son, could not let it happen. They immediately granted him immortality. Thus was born the “wounded healer” archetype: he or she that can heal everyone but not themselves. Chrion will never be healed as no god or goddess possesses the antidote for Hydra’s blood, but he will not die. He was destined for perpetual pain.
But imagine living in pain forever. Eventually, even the wounded healer can grow tired of being a hero and suffering silently for eons. So like a true master, he wanted his end to also be his greatest teaching. He decided to pay a visit to Prometheus, the good titan who stole the fire of the gods to give to humankind and was punished by Zeus with everlasting torture. Here was a fellow creature who like him, was destined to eternal suffering.
When Chrion came to Prometheus, he had to shoo away the giant eagle who everyday pecked at Prometheus’ liver that regenerated in great pain during the night. Chrion gave Prometheus, the bringer of fire, some water and whispered in his ears the words of his salvation. “I give my eternity to you.” Prometheus was released from the rock and the chains that held him fast for thousands of years dissolved. The gods awestruck by Chiron’s sacrifice lifted his soul to the sky and he became the constellation of Sagittarius. Sagittarius is the sign of prophets, teachers, wisdom, philosophy, and truth. It is also the sign that rules thighs and livers.
Myths are true stories that never happened before and the true tale of Chrion is laden with multi-layers of lessons and practical application even in the modern world. On this I will expend in the next blog post.